Post Editorial Board
Friday, January 24, 2020
CITIZENSHIP Matters: Why it’s WRONG to Let NON-Citizens Vote
Post Editorial Board
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Hts.) is leading a drive to give the right to vote in municipal elections to non-citizens living legally in the city. It’s the latest push by progressive legislators to make citizenship mean nothing.
The idea’s been kicking around in New York City since at least 2004, when Councilman Bill Perkins (D-Harlem) proposed a similar bill. Then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg opposed it: “An awful lot of people over the years have fought and died for the right to vote,” he said, and “I don’t think that we should walk away from that concept.”
Indeed: Citizenship should mean something, and the right to vote is a big part of it. And while most Americans are born citizens, an immigrant’s affirmative decision to become a citizen is a vital acceptance of duties as well as privileges.
“I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty,” reads the oath of allegiance for the newly naturalized. And “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” including military service and other “work of national importance” as required by law.
And we’re not even talking about logistics. New York City may allow non-citizen voting in municipal offices, but that wouldn’t extend to state or federal ones. For some elections, that’ll mean entirely separate ballots for these special voters.
Rodriguez calls his bill a thumb in the eye of “that guy in DC because he’s been anti-immigrant”; the 22 other council members co-sponsoring it presumably agree. But one extreme doesn’t justify another. As Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-B’klyn) puts it, “It’s not progressive to tell legal residents of the United States that citizenship has no value.”
We’ll cheer any city leader who encourages immigrants to become citizens in order to participate in elections. But, please, don’t devalue US citizenship out of sheer partisan pique.