Aliens voting rights in the U.S.A. 

Aliens voting rights in California - the debate

see alsoi:  Immigrant Voting Rights in California

Study poses amending California Constitution


Last Updated: December 12, 2003, 05:06:55 AM PST

LOS ANGELES -- A UCLA study released Wednesday says the state constitution should be amended so California's 4.6 million noncitizen adults can vote in local elections.

Nearly one-fifth of the state's adults are noncitizens and in 12 cities form the majority, according to the study, which was commissioned by the University of California at Los Angeles' Chicano Studies Research Center.

The study also found that non-citizens make up more than one-quarter of the population in 85 California cities, and that 28 percent of the state's noncitizens are Hispanic.

"It's really a harbinger of things to come, and unless we start to address this issue, we're going to have a political apartheid in California," said Joaquin Avila, the study's author and an instructor at UCLA law school.

The study, based on 2000 census data, comes days after Gov. Schwarzenegger repealed a law that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

Anti-immigration rights groups reacted angrily, saying the study undermined the legal process for naturalization and essentially sanctioned illegal immigration.

"The distinction between citizens and noncitizens has been seriously eroded over the past generations, and the only difference left is the ability to vote. That's not a trivial thing," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

"A person who isn't a citizen yet is essentially shacking up with America. It's important to the health of the body politic that that difference be preserved."

Avila said the proposed amendment would not mandate the vote for noncitizens, but would give local governments the latitude to allow it if they choose. Any constitutional amendment would have to go to voters.

The study also recommends holding conferences to discuss noncitizens' voting status and including noncitizens on neighborhood councils and other local community groups.

Audrey Singer, an immigration expert with the Brookings Institution in Washington, said cities and school boards in some states -- including Maryland, Illinois and New York -- already allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

Until the 1920s, nearly half of all local elections included noncitizens -- but an immigration backlash after World War II sharply curtailed the practice, Singer said.

S.F. supes flunk citizenship
Debra Saunders July 19, 2004

San Francisco has become a city devoted to expanding the meaning of all categories until none has meaning.

Citizen? Today, that term describes Americans who can register to vote and serve on juries. But if a measure before the Board of Supervisors is approved by city voters and becomes law, it will render the term "citizen" but an antiquated notion in San Francisco.

The measure, introduced by Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, would allow S.F. residents with children in public schools to vote in the school-board election. While supporters say this is a narrow measure designed to increase parental involvement in public schools, there is every reason to believe it is the latest salvo in the far left's push to blur any distinction between citizens and non-citizens, as well as between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants.

It doesn't matter if the state Constitution requires voters to be citizens over the age of 18. When the Special City doesn't like a law, it ignores it.

California State Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he supports the measure because his mother, who didn't pass the citizenship test and thus couldn't vote, should have had a say in school-board politics. As he put it by phone Thursday, the demands of raising a family and making ends meet kept his mother from passing the test, but that shouldn't keep her from voting for school-board members. Yee added, "It seems to me that we should try to find ways to help parents be more engaged."

Did the law keep her from volunteering in school politics? No, he answered. She "helped my campaign for school board. But realize it is one thing to be involved in a campaign, it's another to actually vote."

I'm sorry she didn't pass the test. But I don't buy Yee's contention that the city can expand voting to non-citizen parents of public-school children, and stop there. As Supervisor Fiona Ma noted in a press statement, "This would open a Pandora's box of issues -- will we allow non-citizens who ride BART to vote in BART-board elections or non-citizen home owners to vote in bond measures?"

Yee also argued that he believed in granting the school-board vote to "documented individuals." Nice try, but Yee can't run away from the fact that the Gonzalez measure doesn't distinguish between legal and illegal. As a supporter of the measure told me, it was too much of an administrative challenge to ask poll workers to determine legal residence. Also, there was little interest in distinguishing between "undocumented parents of citizen children" and other parents.

Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies called that "an enormous slap in the face to people who play by the rules, who come legally and become citizens." Why bother if people who flout the rules can vote?

A Gonzalez statement claims that it takes too long for immigrant parents to become Americans: "Due to government red tape and a long INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) backlog, immigrants must wait an average of 10 years to become citizens."

Really? Sharon Rummery of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that while immigrants must be permanent residents for five years to apply for citizenship -- only three years if they're married to a U.S. citizen -- it now takes eight months after application to become a citizen. The process is designed to teach new Americans about how and why democracy works.

"Why have citizenship at all?" former California Secretary of State Bill Jones asked. "Citizenship is the rite of passage to become an American," Jones added. Immigrants who "don't become Americans, they're just an extension of the country they come from."

Maybe city politicians don't care whether the new voters consider themselves American.

A Gonzalez press release quotes an immigrant mother of two who complains that it is "unfair" to make immigrant parents wait "10 years" to become citizens.

It is unfair. It's also unfair that some people are born American, and others are not. It's unfair some are born rich, and others are not. It's unfair some are born beautiful, while others are not.

The present immigration system isn't perfect, but it is designed to allow a fair number of immigrants into the United States in as fair a way as possible. The system is designed to produce new citizens with an understanding and affection for their adopted country.

The Gonzalez measure, however, is designed to undercut that goal by rewarding immigrants who break the law with the right to vote. It is as if San Francisco City Hall set out to teach contempt for the law to America's newest would-be citizens.

©2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

 Suffrage Universel
le droit de vote des étrangers
le droit de vote des étrangers aux Etats-Unis