City Council to continue studying how to let some 'legal' immigrants vote in local elections

The City Council today agreed to continue studying a proposal by Council President Andrea Campbell (Dorchester) to extend the right to vote in municipal elections to "immigrants with legal status."

Without a formal legislative proposal, the council agreed to let Councilor Michael Flaherty's committee on government operations continue to look at the idea.

Campbell, who said she is "done" with rallies and protests against actions by the federal government against immigrants, said she was looking for steps city government could take to protect its citizens. She pointed to both the way the government separated children from their parents and its decision to begin blocking immigrants from serving in the armed forces.

Campbell said she was talking only about municipal elections, not state or federal elections, and noted some other cities in the US already allow such residents to vote. She said one issue to look at is whether Boston could even allow such election participation without approval of the state legislature.

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What is an immigrant with

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What is an immigrant with legal status? Wouldn't that be all U. S. Citizens? I'm confused.

President Campbell might want

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President Campbell might want to start on getting the citizens who live in her district voting. But then talking about the low voter turnout in her district would be too embarrassing. Oh, look .... a kitty!

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'legal'

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Why the scare quotes around 'legal'?

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Exactly...

In a better country, the only thing that would be illegal concerning immigration is off-the-books labor that attempts to skirt regulations, not the immigrants themselves.

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huh?

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Which countries allow mass immigration without regulations? Canada? Mexico? (nope)

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within most of Europe

No borders for Europeans in Europe. In any case, my point is that immigration could and should be addressed almost entirely as a labor issue.

A few observations...

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1. When Campbell "said she was looking for steps city government could take to protect its citizens" it's probably more accurate to say "constituents" given that non-naturalized immigrants, legal or illegal, are not citizens.

2. The parents who have been separated from their children for the most part don't have legal status so it's unclear to me how this helps immigrants with legal status.

3. Thinking on the level of how this just might not be a good idea... voter registration records are public records. It wouldn't be terribly hard for ICE to make a records request, compare that with SSA/IRS records, and target the set of people on the rolls who don't come up as having a valid SSN/TIN.

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sigh

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Campbell, who said she is "done" with rallies and protests against actions by the federal government against immigrants

'

No Campbell, we're just getting started. It's going to be worse before it gets better. We need to protest.. EVERY DAY NOW.

There's nuance missing there

Municipal elections are about the management of local resources and the provision of local services. Someone who lives, works, and pays taxes in a municipality is a legitimate stakeholder; whether or not the person is a citizen of the USA is more or less irrelevant. The notion that such a person ought to vote in municipal elections is not one I agree with, because I don't like the idea of creating a tangled Venn diagram of citizenship, in which one can be a citizen of Cambridge without being a citizen of Massachusetts or the USA, for example, but it's also not crazy.

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I get that

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In fact, there was a proposal a few years back to let seasonal residents vote in some towns on Cape Cod.

Citizenship is a fundamental principle of voting and to your point - tangled Venn diagram of citizenship, residency or more - I don't think we need to consider some absentee owner from Radbunkostan or something showing up here on election day trying to sway the vote on Air BNB and other local issues.

go through the process, become a proper citizen, have an interest in the outcome of the elections.

And everyone - YOUR vote counts - and it counts more in local elections. VOOOOOOTE!!!!!!

Let's take a step back

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And think about this more conceptually: What is the purpose of voting? No, seriously, stay with me..

Certainly different people will have different answers, but let's say.. To elect people to represent us in making decisions about the distribution of public goods, to protect our interests (whatever you feel yours might be) and in general encourage community growth and safety.

Wouldn't presumably anyone with a long-term or permanent presence in the city/commonwealth/whatever have a vested interest in participating in those decisions? Legal permanent residents are just as hardworking, law-abiding, (oftentimes even MORE so) etc etc.. as naturalized or native-born citizens, so in the end, what really is the difference?

Let's say you have a permanent resident who has spent 20 years in Boston, working, raising a family, sending her kids to school, paying taxes, participating in community life day after day. What exactly is the difference between her as a permanent resident and her as a naturalized citizen, besides a ceremony and a piece of paper? When it comes to her interest in the outcome of the election and her participation in the system, there is no difference.

How is she less deserving of the right to participate than a transplant from, say, Ohio who knows nothing about Boston but whose change of residence suddenly permits him to participate?

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Totally Against this..

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One of the prime benefits of being a citizen is the sacred right to vote and now the City Council wants to give that right away to non-citizens (yeah I know they are legal). Either way - if you are a legal immigrant, there are plenty of paths to earn your citizenship. Go earn it and then go vote.

Another thought - I have a second home on Cape Cod that I use most weekends year round. There are housing issues there and second home owners are getting a lot of criticism from year round residents as the cause. So they find every way to increase property taxes, personal property tax on furniture in your home, increase parking fees/permits for non-residents etc. 2nd homeowners counter they are funding but not using the schools, as much water and other town resources etc. 2nd homeowners argue they should get a vote on these financial matters since they are affected and often targeted - i.e taxation without representation. But of course voting in more that one town/city is not allowed. It is what is. (I see both sides of this issue btw).

Being a citizen is what gives you the right to vote. It is what it is and should remain that way.