Earlier this year, when President Donald Trump promoted his zero tolerance policy that resulted in thousands of immigrant families being separated, I felt heartbroken. Whenever he talks about building a wall, I feel angry. This is not the America I want. And so, when I turned 18 last May, I decided to send a message to Trump and Congress: My generation wants fair and humane immigration reform.
I made good on this promise in November. In my first midterm election, I cast my ballot for Abby Finkenauer, the Democrat elected to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Along with 50.9 percent of voters, I helped to flip the district from red to blue. I agree with representative-elect Finkenauer on issues such as alleviating student debt, bringing jobs to Iowa, and increasing environmental protections. But like many of my fellow students who grew up in Iowa, immigration also topped the list.
It’s amazing to see how much has changed here in recent years. My district voted for Trump in 2016, but since then political attitudes and demographics have begun to change. Millennials are a big reason that many districts flipped from Republican to Democrat across the country. An estimated 31 percent of eligible people ages 18 to 29 voted in the last month’s midterms, up from 21 percent in 2014, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
And as statistics show, a majority of young voters lean Democrat. In addition, our district gained nearly 1,500 Hispanic and Asian-American voters since 2016, according to New American Economy. During that same period, the share of white voters here declined by 0.7 percent.