The citizenship rate of foreign-born Asian Americans has also increased, from 50% in 2000 to 57% now. India has one of the greatest number of legal permanent residents eligible to become citizens and 57% of foreign-born Pakistanis have been naturalized. Yet, there are still language and cost barriers associated with citizenship and this remains a hurdle to full civic engagement.
These results and more can be found in the report. But as an electoral advocate, these findings are the most fascinating in how they pertain to civic engagement. As part of the federal Voting Rights Act, Section 203 requires bilingual voting assistance to be required to particular populations, based on Census data. 2002 was the last time an assessment was determined. Due to the results of the 2010 Census, Section 203 now covers Asian American populations located in 22 counties, boroughs, census areas or cities, including 17 new population areas. For the first time South Asian languages are included as a mandatory language for particular counties. The South Asian jurisdictions covered by Section 203 now include:
- Los Angeles County, California – Asian-Indian
- Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) – Asian-Indian
- Queens County, New York – Asian-Indian
- Hamtramck City, Michigan – Bangladeshi
As can be inferred from the above charts, the increase in South Asian populations as well as the higher proportion of naturalized South Asians means that more South Asian Americans are eligible to vote. Providing bilingual assistance will allow the South Asian community to get fully engaged in a process which they wouldn’t have otherwise.
- From “It’s Confirmed – Desis Are Growing,” by Taz