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Harris' Vice Presidential Nomination Could Encourage Iowa Immigrant Voters

A young woman, Lilián Sánchez, holds hands with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA.
Lilián Sánchez
Lilián Sánchez, left, poses with California Sen. Kamala Harris. Sánchez interned for Harris in 2018 in Washington D.C. "She is the daughter of immigrants," Sánchez said. "I see myself reflected in that."

Some Iowa immigrants say Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will encourage more civic interest in the state. Some say Harris’ immigrant background could influence voter turnout.

Lilián Sánchez came to the United States from Mexico when she was seven years old. She is now a U.S. citizen and was inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame last year.

Sánchez said Harris’ position as a Joe Biden’s running mate will inspire more Iowa immigrants to get involved in state leadership roles. Harris’ parents are from India and Jamaica. Sánchez interned for Sen. Harris in 2018 and said Harris’ nomination goes beyond party lines for immigrants like herself.

“I think beyond that to show that no matter your background, no matter your gender, no matter what accent your grandparents spoke in, you have a stake at this. And you have a stake in our democracy,” Sánchez said.

She said Harris’ name on the ballot could encourage more Iowa immigrants to show up to the voting polls in November. This will be the first presidential election Sánchez will participate in.

“I sure hope that it will encourage people, specifically immigrants, who are eligible to vote to, to come out and show the power that comes with our community at the ballot," Sánchez said.

According to the American Immigration Council, Iowa’s immigrant community continue to grow every year. Immigrants are historically underrepresented in voter turnout statistics. A New Jersey City University study found "[s]ome common factors that inhibit immigrants’ political participation include low levels of income and educational attainment."

Thirty-seven percent of Iowa's immigrants are eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election.