The history of immigrant groups in the United States suggests that it can take several decades before immigrants enter into American political life and exert significant influence on local or national politics. History also reveals substantial differences in the speed with which different immigrant groups mobilize politically and establish successful electoral coalitions. The latest wave of immigrants who began to arrive in the mid-1960s has now been in this country long enough to establish roots, but have they begun to establish themselves in the political sphere?
Political scientist John Mollenkopf seeks to answer that question with a study of the state of immigrant political activity in America’s largest gateway cities for immigrants: New York and Los Angeles. For both cities, he will examine whether individual attributes like race, income, English proficiency, and education affect the likelihood that an immigrant will vote. He will also look at the neighborhood level, and ask how the concentration of immigrants and the presence of community organizations relate to immigrant voter turnout and influence. Mollenkopf hypothesizes that there will be differences between the two cities, net of individual and neighborhood effects, because of differences in the political culture, size of government, and history of partisanship in New York and Los Angeles.