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Fight for 1 Million Immigrant Voices Comes to Queens to Celebrate Securing Super-Majority on Bill Expanding Immigrant Voting Rights

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For Immediate Release
Press Release

 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Contacts:
Elianne Ramos | Chief Communications Officer | [email protected] | 212.739.7513

Sarai Bejarano | Manager of Traditional & Digital Media | [email protected] | 212-739-7581

 

Fight for 1 Million Immigrant Voices Comes to Queens to Celebrate Securing Super-Majority on Bill Expanding Immigrant Voting Rights

New York, NY—Today, the Our City, Our Vote (OCOV) coalition, led by the New York Immigration Coalition and United Neighborhood Houses, and NYC Council Member Francisco Moya were joined by immigrant rights and civic engagement advocates, allies, and Queens residents to celebrate securing a super-majority on Intro 1867, which would expand the right to vote in municipal elections to immigrant New Yorkers with legal permanent residence status or work authorization. The coalition commemorated the milestone in Corona Plaza, the heart of immigrant New York, to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of the countless immigrant essential workers who live and reside in Corona, Queens. As they celebrated, advocates called for an immediate New York City Council hearing on the legislation (Introduction 1867), as required by Council rules. The rally took place after polling from Change Research revealed that 65% of likely Democratic primary voters support the Our City, Our Vote legislation.

“As some of us get ready to be heard in one of the City’s most important elections—nearly one million New Yorkers will not have a voice despite their contributions to our City in its time of need. The super-majority we secured on Intro 1867 brings us one step closer to ending this injustice. We applaud NYC Council Member Francisco Moya for signing on and making our bill to become veto-proof,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “The New York City Council has an incredible opportunity to finally give these essential New Yorkers—who held the City together during COVID-19 as teachers, nurses, doctors, and small business owners—a voice in their local government. Today, we call on City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to hold a hearing on this historic legislation as soon as possible. We stand ready to help the City Council make history and enfranchise nearly a million of our fellow New Yorkers.”

“Over the past year, two things have become clearer than ever before: immigrants and communities of color bear the brunt of crises in this city, and individuals raising their voices for change have incredible power,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses. “As we enter the recovery from the pandemic, the City Council must expand the right to vote in municipal elections to enable more New Yorkers to have a say in how their tax dollars are spent, how stimulus funds are distributed, and how new public policies will impact their families and communities.”

“As a lifelong advocate for immigrants and as a representative of one of the largest immigrant communities in the city, I know the incredible impact Intro 1867 will have for countless New Yorkers,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “I am proud to support this bill and thrilled that my co-sponsorship established a super-majority on a historic piece of legislation that will give a voice to nearly a million New Yorkers.”

“At a time when states across the Country are passing voter restriction laws, New York City must set itself apart. The Municipal Voting Rights Bill would expand voting rights to include almost 1 million immigrants living in the City. We would be making history as the largest City to expand voting rights to immigrants at the municipal level and finally live up to the words of no taxation without representation,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “We now have a super-majority of Council Members sponsoring the Municipal Voting Rights Bill and over 60 supporting community organizations. I look forward to continuing to work alongside Speaker Corey Johnson, Committee on Governmental Operations Chairman, Fernando Cabrera, The New York Immigration Coalition, and my colleagues at the Council to ensure we get a hearing in the next upcoming weeks.”

“NYC is the City of dreams. It is a city built on diversity, people of all different backgrounds, cultures, socioeconomic standings, and that is what makes it so beautiful,” said Ali Rashid, President, American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG). “It is heartwarming to finally have the super-majority of NYC Council supporting legislation Intro 1867. Immigrants and those with permanent residence should have the opportunity to partake in our democracy. They should have the ability to make changes to improve their lives, and they should be allowed to vote in municipal elections. We encourage the NYC council and speaker of the house to pass this legislation immediately."

“As the Assemblymember representing Corona, Queens, the heart of immigrant New York, I know the enormous contributions so many of my constituents could make in our local government if they are given a voice, ” said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz. “Intro 1867 finally recognizes the people who risked their lives during the pandemic, as teachers, doctors, and nurses, as New Yorkers who deserve a voice in their government. I'm proud to stand with the NYIC in support of this historic legislation.”

“We are thrilled to hear that Intro 1867 has a super-majority support in the Council, and we call on the Speaker to schedule a hearing so that this bill immediately passes,” said Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy & Public Affairs Officer of Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). “Despite the contributions and value that our immigrant communities bring to our City, they are barred from participating in a democratic process that directly impacts their lives. Those voices deserve to be heard and empowered, and that means passing Intro 1867."

"New York City is home to immigrants from across the globe. Immigrants have been important for the continual growth and progress of our state, and many are essential workers who have fought to keep the economy afloat during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “Simply put, without our immigrant neighbors, New York would not be what it is, it's time to act in solidarity with them. I join my constituents, advocates, and elected colleagues to urge the New York City Council to give Intro 1867 a hearing, bring it to a vote and pass it.”

“The expansion of voting rights makes our communities better, and all New Yorkers need the opportunity to engage in our elections and have their voices heard,” said Michelle Jackson, Executive Director, Human Services Council. “The Human Services Council supports legislation to allow nearly one million permanent residents a long-overdue seat at the table!”

"Immigrant communities in our city were hit disproportionately hard by both the health and economic crises of the pandemic,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “As we begin to come out of this crisis, we owe immigrant communities more investment and more of a voice in our city's recovery. It's time to let our immigrant neighbors vote, so they can help shape the future of the city we share. I've been a proud sponsor of this legislation for many years, and am grateful to the New York Immigration Coalition and many other advocates for continuing this fight for fair representation and democracy in our city."

“Immigrants are the cornerstone of New York City, and despite being such an integral component of our great City, are prevented from participating in the most fundamental process of our democracy, voting. LatinoJustice PRLDEF supports Our City Our Vote to lift the voices of immigrant New Yorkers at the polls,” said Fulvia Vargas-De Leon, Associate Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “The enfranchisement of over one million immigrant New Yorkers is a step towards integrating their civic participation and ensuring they have a voice in electing officials who are responsive and reflective of their needs.”

New York City is a reflection of the many hard-working immigrants who contribute to the City’s economic, cultural, and social expansion,” said Shailesh Shrestha, Host and Producer, Sampreshan Inc. “The time is now to pass Intro 1867 so that our City’s democracy reflects all New Yorkers, including the nearly one million immigrants who currently have no say in our local elections. The Nepali-speaking community is an emerging minority bloc, and the fastest-growing electoral bloc will be highly benefited by this legislation. An inclusive democracy should be all about the people's participation, not hypothetical political rhetoric and doctrine. I urge the City Council to pass Intro 1867 immediately.”

“Women Creating Change (WCC) is proud to stand up for immigrant New Yorkers as part of the Our City, Our Vote Coalition and advocate to expand democracy by supporting Intro. 1867,” said Carole Wacey, President & CEO of Women Creating Change. “At WCC, we’ve been advocating for voting rights and civic engagement for more than 100 years, but in 2021 as we approach a pivotal local election, nearly one million New Yorkers cannot vote. Immigrants have been integral to building this City’s culture, education system, and economy, and it’s time they can participate in our democracy. We are stronger when all of our neighbors have a say in who represents our communities.”

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The Our City, Our Vote coalition is supporting exciting legislation that expands democracy in New York City so green card holders and those authorized to work in the United States can vote in elections for city-level offices. Introduction 1867 would allow New York City residents, who are otherwise qualified to register under New York State election law, to vote in municipal elections. As of last week, the OCOV coalition secured a super-majority of co-sponsors on Intro 1867, which, according to Council rules, automatically triggers a hearing on the bill in the next 60 days. Nearly one million New York City residents cannot vote in local elections due to their citizenship status, despite paying taxes and being invested in and contributing to the City.

About LatinoJustice
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org