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Immigrant NYers, Advocates Call for Immigrant Voting Rights in City Elections

The groups are fighting for the passage of a bill that would expand voting rights to those with permanent resident status or work authorization
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Photo: Anna Bradley-Smith for BK Reader.

Immigrant New Yorkers and advocates are calling on the City to expand voting rights to those with permanent resident status or work authorization for the City's municipal elections.

Currently, there are around one million tax paying New Yorkers who do not hold the right to vote, New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Murad Awawdeh said, adding that everyone deserved to have their voice heard by the people elected to represent their communities and interests.

"Despite contributing to our city in tax dollars throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one million New Yorkers remain silent in our local democracy."

"As Republican voter suppression efforts continue to silence communities across the country, it is more important than ever that the New York City Council expeditiously usher in the largest enfranchisement in a generation for our city."

New York Immigration Coalition is one of the groups behind Our City, Our Vote Coalition, which is pushing for the passage of New York City Council bill Intro 1867. The bill would expand the right to vote in municipal elections to immigrant New Yorkers with legal permanent residence status or work authorization. 

Awawdeh said it was important that with the bill, immigrant New Yorkers that make up the "diverse communities integral to our city are empowered in municipal elections to shape the decisions that impact their daily lives."

Adeel Ahmed, a community organizer at Brooklyn-based The Black Institute, said the group felt strongly for the legislation.

"We see it as a primary issue of representation for people of color who make up most permanent residents in New York City. There are already countless issues disproportionately targeting Black and Brown people electorally whether it is through gerrymandering, disproportionate incarceration of people of color, etc," he said.

"This situation is another example of injustice against people of color. Allowing one million permanent residents being allowed to vote is in its essence racial justice."

On Monday, the New York City Council will hold a hearing on the bill, after the Our City, Our Vote Coalition secured a supermajority of co-sponsors in June. The group supports legislation to expand voting rights 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.