Thursday, July 7

Immigrants with a ‘Green Card’ or work permit will now be able to vote in municipal elections in NYC

On a fact classified as “historical”, and just when other states and municipalities around the United States advance projects to limit the right to vote, in the New York City vote in local elections It will no longer be a limited privilege for citizens.

As of the next municipal elections, about 900,000 New Yorkers residents with ‘Green Card’ or holders of work permits, as beneficiaries of DACA, TPS and other immigration reliefs, they will be able to vote in elections to choose the Mayor, county presidents, members of the City Council, Ombudsman and City Comptroller, among other local positions.

In the plenary session this Thursday, by an overwhelming majority, the Municipal Council approved the regulation that since 2004 was trying to have the green light to change the electoral landscape of the Big Apple, and that for years remained in the pipeline. Of the 51 members of the legislative body, 33 (three less than expected) voted in favor, 14 did so against and 2 abstained.

The happy face of the Councilor Ydanis Rodríguez, promoter of the law of voting for non-citizen immigrants, rhymed with his declaration of victory, after ensuring that the approval of the so-called Introduction 1867 it is a “triumph for Democracy”, as well as for “the dignity and inclusion” of the working class.

For years in this country we have seen many struggles for the right to vote to be respected, When what the system has tried to do is suppress the voice of the people, and today, in 2021, we are declaring a new victory, we are writing a new chapter, not only for Latinos but for immigrants who come from Africa, Europe, Asia and that make this city great ”, commented the political leader of Dominican origin. “While the Trump supporters they want to take away people’s rights and make voting a privilege of a few, in New York City we are showing that there is another way to do things, and that is by expanding the right to vote, in favor of Democracy.

The Councilor Francisco Moya, who sounds strong to become the eventual president of the new Municipal Council that will take office next January, also celebrated the signing of the article as a triumph, and warned that without a doubt including immigrants in the decisions of the Big Apple will change things in all five boroughs.

“For me this is personal, because as the son of Ecuadorian parents, I know the value that voting can have, and just as this will allow people like my mother to finally vote, it will also do the same with many New Yorkers who have cousins, siblings, friends or resident or work permit neighbors who pay taxes and who have been denied the right to have their voice count, ”said the Queens politician.

Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), stressed that with the green light to the law, the Big Apple will lead the course of similar initiatives in other municipalities.

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“At a time when Republicans are doing things against Democracy, in New York we are sending a clear message: everyone’s participation leads us to have a safer and fairer city, and we cannot think of a recovery after COVID when they people most shocked who helped the city to stand cannot vote, ”said the activist.

The director of the NYIC, an organization that together with United Neighborhood Houses, promoted the campaign “Our City Our Vow“He stressed that now the task will fall into the hands of the next local government to ensure that the law is implemented smoothly and with the necessary infrastructure so that new voters can exercise their right to vote.

The Ombudsman, Jumaane Williams He stressed that the new law does not grant non-citizens the right to vote for the first time in the city, but restores a benefit that was suppressed in the Big Apple several years ago, since residents could vote in municipal elections.

What we are doing is restoring a right that was taken from us and that it sought to discourage more people from participating in decision-making, because we have to be honest and the truth is that they have always tried to prevent more people from voting, ”said the official, visibly happy.

Williams He ironically assured that there are many sectors concerned and even afraid that the restoration of the vote to residents and holders of work permits will change the political dynamics of the City, making the voices of vulnerable communities be heard more and take precedence, fighting the status quo. quo. “We came here (to the Council) to cause a lot of problems and we are doing it“He commented.

The Councilor Carlina Rivera, another of the strong candidates to become president of the next Municipal Council, stated that December 9 should be remembered as a holiday and celebration for nearly 1 million New Yorkers who have been excluded from decision-making.

“Today things are changing in New York City and this million people who did not have a voice will already have it,” said the politician.

After the approval of the new law, people who have lived in the city for at least 30 days, such as citizens who want to register to vote, and who are legal residents and have work permits, will be able to vote in the next city elections of 2023, but they will not be able to do it for state positions, much less federal, like president.

In addition, the Electoral Board of the City, Which has been harshly criticized for years for its constant mistakes, will be tasked with creating a new municipal voter registration form, promoting staff trainings and educating new recipients of the right to vote. They will also have to draw up municipal electoral ballots, separate from general ballots to prevent non-citizens from voting on federal issues, which is prohibited.

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Saray rodriguez, who has been a resident for five years, and who works as a street vendor, was excited to learn that in the next elections she will be able to demonstrate at the polls with her citizen daughter, who is already 18 years old.

Councilor Ydanis Rodríguez and the Ombudsman, Jumaane Williams, celebrating the approval of the law.

“This is a blessing and an act of justice, because people like me who contribute, who work hard, who pay taxes, we have stood aside in the elections because we had no voting rights. Now if we will be a stronger power, “said the mother of the family.

Angel Salazar, a DACA beneficiary, also let out his emotion and assured that without a doubt the political life of New York, where only 23% of the more than 4 million voters voted in the last elections, will suffer a shakeup with the immigrant power.

“Now I can show that my voice does matter and that it counts and that it will also make a difference, because we can change the political and electoral landscape of the City,” said the young man. “To those who oppose me having this right, I tell them that now we do matter and we are going to assert our vote and I am going to make my mother, who cannot vote, have a voice through me.”

Luis Antonio Livia, who has a work permit, described the approval of the law as the result of a years-long struggle, which finally sees the light of day.

“This is a fight that has paid off, because as a community we contribute and deserve this recognition. This empowers us as a community and it gives us strong guidelines to choose and decide on what happens in New York ”, said the Peruvian.

But the excitement and celebration of the new law does not paint smiles on all New Yorkers on the face, and there are those who not only oppose the approved measure, but also predict that it will not be implemented and that after going through judicial courts , it will stay in the air, for being allegedly unconstitutional, something that the promoters of the measure deny.

This is absurd. I am totally against it, because I believe that to vote people must be citizens, period. Immigrants like my grandparents came here and waited to become citizens so they could have the right to vote, ”said the Democratic city councilman. Queens, Robert Holden. “It makes no sense that a person who has only been here 30 days can now vote and decide on the affairs of the City. It’s stupid. I do not know a country that allows foreigners to decide on their choices and it is risky, because many do not know anything about this city. But I know this won’t pass the challenge in court because it violates the Constitution. The councilors who approved it are wasting their time ”.

The concilor David Carr, another critic of the legislation, was on the same track, and said that the law will fall in court. “I fundamentally believe that the right to vote is part of being a citizen and should be exclusive to them,” he said.

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The Staten Island Councilor, Joseph Borelli He mentioned that passing such a law could discourage residents from seeking to become citizens of us and also said that the regulations will be rejected in the courts.

“If they (non-citizens) want to vote here, they must go through the process of becoming citizens, because that is how a real commitment to be part of this city and this country is shown,” said the Republican politician. “The face in this city is too big for us to cede the most essential right of American citizenship to someone who has only lived here for 30 days.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been opposed from the beginning to support the law, changed his tone a bit and although he confessed that he still has doubts about the articles, for reasons of legality, he has already given his word that he will not veto the law and will sign it .

“Right now I still have mixed feelings. I’ve been honest about it. That hasn’t changed a bit. I think there are still some outstanding legal questions about the authority of the City versus the State in this matter. But I respect the Municipal Council ”, commented De Blasio. “I will respect everything you do. But I think there are still open questions about this for the future (…) It is certainly not something that I intend to veto, but it is also something that I am not sure is the right way to do it ”.

The new law that allows non-citizens to vote in Municipal elections in NYC

  • 33 of the 51 councilors voted in favor
  • 14 councilors ruled against
  • 2 councilors abstained from voting
  • Intro 1867 will allow those who have a Green Card or work permit to vote in municipal elections
  • Residents, DACA recipients, New Yorkers with immigration protections, TPS, work visas and other programs that grant work permits, will be able to vote
  • 30 days of living in the city will need to prove the new voters to be able to register, as indicated by the current electoral rules for citizens
  • 900,000 immigrants with Green Card and work permit will benefit
  • May vote only for local elections
  • New non-citizen voters will be able to vote for positions such as Mayor, City Comptroller, Ombudsman, Councilors and county presidents.
  • 36 councilors supported the measure
  • 30 days after the law is signed, it will enter into force
  • 2023 will be the year in which the voters benefiting from the new law are expected to be released at the municipal polls
  • 2022, however, will be the year voters can begin to register.

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