The mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, John DeStefano is going to request the state legislature to let illegal immigrant residents vote in municipal elections.
Protesting Deportation Laws
The Mayor made the announcement on Tuesday after a press conference where he and other politicians came to protest the federal “Secure Communities Initiative “designed to more aggressively deport immigrants who are in the US illegally.
DeStefano believes that allowing the immigrants to vote would help make the community more cohesive and engaged, and the proposal follows the lead of other municipalities around the country. He proposes to introduce in the upcoming legislative session a “resident voting rights” bill which would allow any person who lives in New Haven to vote, irrespective of their legal status.
The bill is about “how you define community, and how you define responsibility in community,” he said
Precedents for Such a Law
There are already some cities around the country with such laws, such as Takoma Park in Maryland. Chicago allows illegal immigrants to vote in school board elections. However, in Portland, Maine and San Francisco similar proposals were nixed.
DeStefano and New Haven made headlines back in 2007 when the city allowed a program to provide city identification cards for all residents, including illegal immigrants. These cards gave them access to city services like banking and the library.
Should Have a Say
It is estimated that about 10,000 of New Haven’s 130,000 residents are non-citizen immigrants, some of them legal, and some not. DeStefano, who is a Democrat, argues that illegal immigrants do pay taxes through the rent they pay. Since they send their children to New Haven schools, they should have a say in what goes on here.