Tag: New York City immigrant communities

AsianImmigration NewsQueens

Voting Barriers Encountered at a Diverse Poll Site in Queens, NY

ASTORIA, NY – By Suman Ragunathan, FI2W Consultant

In Astoria, Queens, an ethnically diverse immigrant neighborhood just minutes away from Midtown Manhattan, Saeeda Nadeem was on her way to vote for the first time after 15 years in the U.S.Saeeda, a housewife originally from Pakistan, became a citizen two years ago in 2006, and was excited to vote this year.She pointed to the differences between the candidates — a difference she described as “black and white.”

Saeeda’s husband, Mohammad, a hotel concierge –also originally from Pakistan– has been in the U.S. for 21 years and has been voting for twelve years. He said he was casting his vote because he wanted change:”The economy is going down — it’s very hard to live here, and we want hope.”He noted that he and Saeeda, who have three children born in the U.S., had been paying attention to election issues and the debates.Mohammad said he was voting for Barack Obama “because he said he would work on immigration policy.”

Saeeda and Mohammad went to P.S. 234 in Astoria, where they were told that they were at the wrong polling site. They were sent to another polling site across the street, P.S. 17.They later returned to P.S. 234, their first stop, where –though they both live at the same address– Mohammad voted. He then accompanied his wife back to P.S. 17 to vote.

Exit pollsters surveying Asian American voters at P.S. 234 reported helpful poll workers, a variety of interpreters available to assist voters in languages other than English, and very few voters being asked for identification in order to be able to vote.

Across the street, P.S. 17 was a different scene.Lines at times extended beyond the door of the Henry David Thoreau School as residents filed in to vote. Unfortunately, widespread voting barriers accompanied the long lines.

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La Ruta del Voto Latino: Getting Ecuadoran Immigrants to Focus on US Politics

EcuaParade

Sunday Aug. 3 2008, The Ecuador Independence Day Parade in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY. (Photo: Diego Graglia)

At last Sunday’s Ecuadoran Independence Day Parade in Queens, NY representatives of Ecuadoran political parties drew lots of attention, not all of it positive. But at least one community leader at the parade was trying to get people to focus on the US presidential election. As part of our special series La Ruta del Voto Latino – The Road to the Latino Vote, journalist Diego Graglia spoke to Francisco Moya, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In fact, he’s the first Ecuadoran to be a delegate to a major party convention in the US. In this Podcast, Moya talks about the challenge of getting Ecuadoran immigrants, including those who a US citizens, to pay attention to US politics.

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Ecuadorans are one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the New York area. The city’s Department of City Planning says Ecuador is third among the, “largest sources of the foreign-born,” in the borough of Queens, and it is second in The Bronx. There are also large Ecuadoran communities in Somerset and Essex counties in New Jersey and Westchester, NY. Despite their numbers Ecuadorans don’t have much political power, compared to other immigrant groups that have been in New York for decades, like Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.

Diego Graglia is on the road from New York City to Mexico City, talking to Latinos about the issues and the candidates in this year’s presidential election.

To see photos of the parade and Diego Graglia’s road trip, visit the NY-DF Flickr page, and visit his web-page at http://www.newyorktomexico.com/.