Immigrant representation in Congress: 68

14 members of Congress are foreign-born and 54 are children of immigrants in the 116th Congress. That’s 16% of the Senate (16) and 12% of the House (52).

19 represent California, or 35% of that state’s entire representation. California’s population is ¼ foreign born, and contains ¼ of all foreign born persons in the country.

Newly elected Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and fled with her family in 1991 after the country’s civil war started. Her family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya and later moved to America, where she became a citizen in 2000. Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., was born in communist Poland before coming to the U.S. at age 6 with his mother.

Others had parents who fled their native countries. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., was born to a Polish mother who survived the Holocaust and came to the U.S. in 1950. Rep. Joe Neguse, also a Democrat representing Colorado, was born to Eritrean parents who fled their country in 1980 when it was embroiled in war with Ethiopia.

The countries most represented by current or children of immigrants are: Mexico (13), Cuba (8), Germany (6), and India (5).

Under the U.S. Constitution, an immigrant taking office in the House must be a U.S. citizen for seven years or more, age 25 or older and living in the state where he or she is elected. Nine years of citizenship are required to serve in the Senate, and the person must be 30 or older and live in the represented state when elected.

By the authors of this study: “In this analysis, we examined lawmakers’ birthplaces and parentage through news stories, obituaries, candidate statements, and congressional and genealogical records, as well as contacting congressional staff.”

From Pew Research.

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