Although immigration continues to be one of the most contentious topics under discussion in the United States, fewer Congress members are likely to have a personal understanding of the issue than in previous decades, according to a new study released by Pew Research Center.
Just six members – barely 1% – of the present Congress immigrated to the US, meaning that this Congress has the lowest amount of immigrants since between 1967 and 1974, when there were no senators or representatives serving who had been born overseas. In 1789-91 there were nine foreign-born members of Congress ‒ around 10% ‒ and despite various peaks the number of members of Congress born overseas has gradually declined.
The focus on immigration in the United States is set to increase over the course of the next year as the heat surrounding the 2016 presidential election continues to rise and more Middle Eastern refugees are accepted into the country. Although there has been a steady increase in immigrants in the US since 1970, which is expected to rise further in the future, the federal government’s legislative branch has not reflected this change in demographics.
According to the US Constitution, immigrants need to have been in possession of citizenship for a minimum period of seven years before they are allowed to run for the House of Representatives and at least nine years before they can attempt to run for the Senate.