New York, the city that has received millions of foreigners who have shaped the American demographics for centuries, has become a pioneer place for migrant rights in the United States on Thursday. Its Municipal Council has approved, by 33 votes in favor and 14 against, the right to vote of its residents with papers but who do not have US citizenship. The measure will allow more than 800,000 migrants to vote with green cards – the famous green cards— o with work permits already undocumented protected by immigration reliefs approved by the federal government.
“The New York council is making history. I hope that other cities in the country and abroad are seeing this ”, said in plenary session the councilor of Dominican origin Ydanis Rodríguez, author of the project that was approved this Thursday. “We have to make sure there is adequate representation for all New Yorkers,” he added. The legislation, which was passed after four previous failed attempts and thanks to a 12-year struggle by a coalition of civil society organizations, guarantees the vote to people not born in the United States but living, working and paying taxes in New York.
“From now on, those who want to be elected to public office will have to spend the same time in the communities affected by this legislation as in upper-class neighborhoods,” Councilor Rodríguez told the newspaper. The New York Times after the measure was approved. It allows you to elect mayors, councilors, county attorneys and other local offices, but not to participate in state or federal elections.
In addition to legal residents who do not have U.S. citizenship, the legislation also allows those known as dreamers or dreamers, undocumented migrants who came to the United States as children and are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), another immigration relief that protects citizens of six countries that were affected by natural or humanitarian disasters.
With this vote, New York becomes the largest American city to pass such a measure at a time when the country is debating voting restrictions and barriers, which generally affect racial minorities. Thursday’s vote mobilized pro-immigrant organizations that demonstrated outside the municipal council and celebrated the measure. Despite the fact that New York is a city with a Democratic majority, the legislation has generated suspicions in relevant figures of the party such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, who questioned whether the City Council had the power to guarantee the vote to those who do not have US citizenship but He has said that he is not going to veto it.
According to the regulations, non-residents will be able to vote in local elections as of January 9, 2023, but it is to be expected that the measure will be disputed in court by those who oppose the regulation, who consider that it takes away power from citizens. Americans and discourages legal residents from obtaining citizenship. With this decision, New York joins a dozen other smaller cities in the United States that already allow immigrants to vote in local elections.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.