NEW YORK - New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez has introduced a bill that would allow New York City immigrants who are legal permanent residents or have legal working papers but are not U.S. citizens to vote in municipal elections.
“The immigrant voting rights will be expanded, will make our democracy stronger because it will connect close to one million New Yorkers with the right to vote,” Rodriguez said.
Dozens of immigrants and advocacy organizations gathered on the steps of City Hall on Thursday to express their support for the bill, chanting “Our city, our vote” and “No taxation without representation.”
“For too long, members of our communities who live here, who work here, raise their families here and pay billions of dollars in taxes have been shut out of the process,” said Theresa Thanjan of the New York Immigration Coalition.
The proposed bill would allow as many as one million immigrant New Yorkers to vote in local elections and has support from more than a dozen city council members and the city’s Public Advocate.
“Right now, in other parts of the country, if you look in Maryland there are municipalities where non-citizens have the right to vote. We are not crazy,” said Jumaane Williams.
However, opponents say that only U.S. citizens should have the right to vote and choose who represents them in government. Eric Ulrich, a Republican city councilmember representing the 32nd District said the legislation is politically motivated and will create chaos and confusion.
“Voting is an incentive to get people on a path to citizenship and I don’t know why anybody would want to take that away,” Ulrich said.