Immigrant NYers Secure Largest Expansion of NYC’s Democracy in 100 Years
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2021
Sarai Bejarano⏐Manager of Traditional & Digital Media⏐LJ⏐212.739.7581⏐[email protected]
Immigrant NYers Secure Largest Expansion of NYC’s Democracy in 100 Years
New York, NY - On Thursday, December 9th, 2021, the New York City Council passed Intro 1867, which expands the right to vote in municipal elections to roughly 900,000 non-citizen New Yorkers with legal permanent residence status or other valid work authorization. The Our City, Our Vote Coalition (OCOV), New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), United Neighborhood Houses, allies, and immigrant New Yorkers have worked for years to secure the passage of this historic legislation. The most significant expansion of NYC’s democracy in over a century, today’s vote also marked a significant victory in the ongoing fight for voting rights across the country.
“Today, we finally gave immigrant New Yorkers who raise their kids here, build our economy, and contribute to this vibrant city every single day a voice in their local democracy,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “This groundbreaking legislation gives nearly one million New Yorkers a voice in the issues we all care about; the quality of our schools, the safety of our streets, and countless other large and small ways the city government impacts our lives. Now, it’s time for Mayor de Blasio to immediately sign Intro 1867 into law. This legislation will usher in the largest enfranchisement of New Yorkers in more than a century and marks a bold step forward in the fight for protecting and expanding democracy. NYC can once again serve as a model for cities and counties across the country. When powerful forces lobby to restrict access to the ballot box and seek to turn our country back, New York can and must offer a strong reminder that our leaders don’t get to choose their voters. The voters choose who leads them.”
"Immigrants are New Yorkers through and through, and today's City Council vote gives them a voice in the neighborhoods where they live, work, and participate in civic life,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses. “With this outcome, Speaker Johnson and the City Council have corrected a historical inequality and given power to voices that have been silenced for far too long. We celebrate today's victory with our City Council champion, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, our many Our City, Our Vote coalition partners and supporters, and the roughly 900,000 New Yorkers enfranchised by this legislation. We now call on Mayor de Blasio to sign Intro 1867 into law immediately and take the final step to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers can participate in our democracy."
“It is no secret, we are making history today. 50 years down the line when our children look back at this moment they will see a diverse coalition of advocates who came together to write a new chapter in New York City’s history by giving immigrant New Yorkers the power of the ballot,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “What we are doing here today is nothing new. The City of Tacoma Park in Maryland has been allowing non-citizens to vote in their municipal elections since the 1990s. 13 other Cities in Maryland, including California, and Illinois allow non-citizens the right to vote. It is time for New York City to take the baton. I want to thank The New York Immigration Coalition, United Neighborhood Houses, Speaker Johnson, Council Members Daniel Dromm, Margaret Chin, and Carlos Menchaca, and the Our City, Our Vote Coalition for all their support in getting this bill passed.”
"NYC has an aura. There is something palpable in the air that draws people to it. It is the city of dreams, a city that is built on the diversity of its people,” said Ali Rashid, President of American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG). “NYC is an amalgamation of people of different backgrounds, cultures, and socioeconomic standings. People from all over the world come here in the hopes of chasing the American dream. It is heartwarming for the American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG) to be a part of the Our City Our Vote Coalition in passing historic legislation in Intro 1867. It is the culmination of tireless efforts both day and night to allow NYC to become the largest city in the nation to enfranchise immigrants - to give them agency and opportunity to grasp at their dreams."
"Today, we honor the many sacrifices the millions of immigrant New Yorkers make every day to make New York City the incredible city it is," said Robert Agyemang, NY Director, African Communities Together. "Today, New York City has decided that it will no longer hold back their hardest-working residents and set the standard that should be followed in every municipality across the nation. We will continue to work with the Our City Our Vote Coalition and its supporters to create a true and equal democracy that stands for and represents the people. ALL of its people."
"With people of color expected to become the majority in this country within just a few years, it is no surprise that people are actively opposing and organizing against the legislation to allow permanent residents in NYC to vote in municipal elections, a group of people that are a predominantly people of color,” said Adeel Ahmed, Community Organizer, The Black Institute. “That is why we have said this before and are saying again that this is not just an issue of electoral justice but also an issue of racial, social, and socioeconomic justice. While many try to suppress the vote, Intro 1867 expands the vote. This is what democracy looks like."
"While conducting voter outreach among diverse populations in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, we met many residents who wanted to vote and become more civically engaged but were not yet able to. We are excited that the City Council will be voting on this important legislation to expand civic participation," said Mae Lee, Executive Director, Chinese Progressive Association.
"This is a joyful moment of recognition of immigrant power. Municipal laws and regulations affect immigrants directly, so it is imperative that immigrants take part in the democratic process,” said Stephanie Mulcock, Esq., Executive Director, Garra (formerly named Cidadão Global). “We are elated that our lawmakers took this concrete step towards enfranchising immigrants and recognizing the strength they bring to our community, our laws, and our democracy."
“LatinoJustice today joins with our many OCOV community allies and partners in celebrating a truly historic moment for New York City with the passing of Intro. 1867, which will expand voting rights in local municipal elections to nearly a million hardworking and dedicated, legal permanent residents,” said Cesar Z. Ruiz, LatinoJustice PRLDEF Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow Sponsored by the Lavan-Harris Family. “At a time when voting rights across the country are openly under attack, the passage of Intro. 1867 represents NYC’s collective commitment to ensuring that the franchise remains open to all those who contribute to the Big Apple’s viability, while also ensuring equitable representation to long-time immigrant residents of our nation.”
“Queens Community House has been involved in this campaign for 13 years,” said Ben Thomases, Executive Director of Queens Community House. “Many of our neighbors in the communities we serve have been unable to vote on policies affecting their daily lives despite contributing to the city’s economic, cultural, and social expansion. Intro 1867 would ensure that all of our neighbors have a voice.”
“Women Creating Change is a proud member of the Our City Our Vote Coalition, and we are thrilled to stand alongside our partners today as we celebrate this campaign victory that will ensure our elections are inclusive of more voices,” said Carole Wacey, President and CEO of Women Creating Change. "With this policy, New York City demonstrates its leadership on voting rights. We are hopeful this is the start of a movement across the country to enfranchise immigrants who are already living, working, and paying taxes in our communities.”
"If we are committed to building a strong and inclusive democracy, we must expand the right to vote to non-citizens. NYC’s immigrant communities play a vital role in our city and deserve political representation on matters that deeply affect us— from education justice to housing policy. We urge the City Council to take this significant step to lift New York City up as a beacon of democratic promise by passing Intro 1867 today," said New York Working Families Party State Director Sochie Nnaemeka.
"Today, New York will finally restore the right to vote to New York City permanent residents, regardless of federal citizenship status,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “This is a city of immigrants, and New Yorkers deserve a voice in their city representatives and the policies that will shape their lives. I'm grateful to the elected officials and advocates who have worked on this issue for so long, and that even as some states work to strip voting rights from communities of more color, our city joins others across the nation who already have restored this right and expanded democracy."
“In a time when democracy itself is under threat across the world, I applaud both the City Council for its courageous vote to enfranchise nearly one million our neighbors and the countless advocates who fought tirelessly for years to make this victory possible,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Our city, and our democracy, is a fairer and stronger place today because of this vote and the dedicated activism it took to get here.”
“Our immigrant communities helped shepherd New York City through a crisis, yet they don’t have a voice in choosing who represents them in local government," said Council Member Adrienne Adams. "That should change, and with the passage of Intro. 1867, we will empower New York City’s immigrants to participate in municipal elections. I applaud the advocacy of Our City, Our Vote, and all coalition partners who have worked hard on this critical legislation.”
"I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to vote for this landmark legislation," said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. "Nearly a million non-citizen New Yorkers – people who live here, work here, raise families here, and help make New York the extraordinary city it is – deserve a full share in the decisions we make together, including the leaders who represent us and the laws that affect all of our lives. I see Our City Our Vote as a vital stepping stone on the way to a fully inclusive democracy: In the future, I am eager to fight for these rights to be extended to undocumented New Yorkers and to work with colleagues in Albany and DC to ensure that this historic expansion of voting protections does not merely apply to New York City, but can be enjoyed by all."
"This is groundbreaking legislation that would finally allow almost 1 million community residents to vote for their local representatives," said Council Member Peter Koo. "These individuals already live and work in our community, and as more people vote, the more reflective our government will be of the people they represent."
"I've been a proud sponsor of legislation to expand voting rights on local issues to New Yorkers who were born elsewhere for over a decade, and proud to vote for it today. Welcoming NYC’s immigrants into our local democracy is not only a matter of justice, it’s how we build a more thriving city," said Council Member Brad Lander. "Thank you to Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and to many, many advocates for leading the fight to enable our non-citizen neighbors to vote on the decisions and leaders who shape the schools, streets, and policies that impact their lives every day."
"The time to give immigrant New Yorkers a voice in their municipal government is now. Whether it was building our city or working as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants have contributed to the prosperity and growth of New York City. That is why I am proud to stand here as a leading sponsor along with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and the New York Immigration Coalition to finally see the passage of Intro-1867 to restore the right to vote for nearly a million of our immigrant neighbors," said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. "Opponents of this bill are already fear-mongering and spreading false information that any immigrant can come here and vote. They are wrong. Under our legislation, only those who have work authorization and have some immigration status under federal law can vote in our local elections. These are individuals like Dreamers under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program who worked as essential healthcare workers during the pandemic or Haitian New Yorkers with Temporary Protective Status who work hard and pay taxes. The law and justice are on our side."
The Our City, Our Vote coalition supports groundbreaking legislation to expand 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. In September, the New York City Council held a hearing on the bill after the OCOV coalition secured a large majority of co-sponsors in June. 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.
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 nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org