While there are many reasons to explain this finding, Guerra said race plays a big factor on a recent immigrant’s decision to run for office.
“Many of our first and second generation alumni perceive their racial and ethnic identity as one of the largest barriers to running,” she said.
North Carolina is no exception when it comes to underrepresentation of Asian Americans and Latinos in government.
“There is significant work needed in North Carolina to increase voter participation and civic engagement across all populations, not only immigrant communities,” Dani Moore, director of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project of North Carolina, said in an email.
All the while, the state has seen increases in Asian-American and Latino populations.
The state’s Asian population grew from about 142,000 to 240,000 and the Hispanic population from about 506,000 to nearly 890,000 between the years of 2004 and 2014 — according to Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography.
This growth was seen across the U.S., but Moore said immigrant integration efforts are often left out of the policy discussion.
“Immigrant integration issues are among the most overlooked set of issues in our current public policy debates,” she said. “Furthermore, immigration issues are generating a level of controversy and polarization that are harmful and unnecessary.”
More diverse leadership could remedy this problem, Guerra said. Community values and issues are better represented by more diverse officials.
Moore said the U.S. can benefit from a more inclusive government.
“All of our people benefit when our leaders in public service represent the diversity and breadth of who we are — when they can be deeply aware of how our various identities and lived experiences contribute so powerfully to how and why certain public policy decisions happen,” she said.