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October 25th, 2010
States Would Like Their Illegal Immigrants to Vote

Claude Rwaganje pays taxes on his income and taxes on his cars. His children have gone to Portland's public schools. He's interested in the workings of Maine's largest city, which he has called home for 13 years.

There's one vital difference, though: Rwaganje isn't a U.S. citizen and isn't allowed to vote on those taxes or on school issues. That may soon change.

Portland residents will vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to give legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections, joining places like San Francisco and Chicago that have already loosened the rules or are considering it.

Noncitizens hold down jobs, pay taxes, own businesses, volunteer in the community and serve in the military, and it's only fair they be allowed to vote, Rwaganje said.

"We have immigrants who are playing key roles in different issues of this country, but they don't get the right to vote," said Rwaganje, 40, who moved to the U.S. because of political strife in his native Congo and runs a nonprofit that offers financial advice to immigrants.

Noncitizens are allowed to vote in school board elections in Chicago and in municipal elections in half a dozen towns in Maryland, said Ron Hayduk, a professor at the City University of New York and author of "Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States."

New York City allowed noncitizens to vote in community school board elections until 2003, when the school board system was reorganized, and several municipalities in Massachusetts have approved allowing it but don't yet have the required approval from the Legislature, he said.

The Maine ballot questions asks whether legal immigrants who are city residents but not U.S. citizens should be allowed to vote in municipal elections. If the measure passes, noncitizens would be able to cast ballots in school board, city council and school budget elections, as well as other local issues, but not on federal or statewide matters.

The Maine League of Young Voters, which spearheaded the drive to force the question on the ballot, estimates there are 5,000 to 7,500 immigrants in Portland, roughly half of whom are not U.S. citizens. They come from more than 100 countries, with the two largest groups from Somalia and Latin America.

On a recent day in a small lunchroom at the Al-Amin Halal Market, a group of Somali men ate lunch and talked in their native language. A sign advertised the day's offerings, including hilib ari (goat), bariis (rice) and baasto (spaghetti).

Abdirizak Daud, 40, moved to Minneapolis 18 years ago before coming to Portland in 2006. He hasn't been able to find a job. Some of his nine children have attended Portland schools, and he'd like to have a say in who's looking over the school system and the city, he said.

But between his limited English and the financial demands, Daud hasn't been able to become a citizen.

"I like the Democrats. I want to vote for Democrats, but I don't have citizenship," he said.

Supporters of Portland's ballot measure say the process is cumbersome, time-consuming and costly. The filing fee and fingerprinting costs alone are $675, and many immigrants spend hundreds of dollars more on English and civics classes and for a lawyer to help them through the process.

Allowing noncitizens to vote fits with basic democratic principles, Hayduk said.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates tougher immigration enforcement, says voting is a privilege and should be limited to citizens.

"People who are legal immigrants to the United States after a five-year waiting period can become citizens and become enfranchised," spokesman Ira Mehlman said. "But until then, being here as a legal immigrant is a conditional agreement, sort of like a trial period. You have to demonstrate you are the type of person we would want to have as a citizen, then you can become a citizen and vote."

(FOX News)

Of course Democrats want illegals to vote.  They don't know the American Political System, they have no previous knowledge of which politician was caused by what politician.  All they have to do is tell them who to vote Democrat and that the Democrats will take care of them...take care of them right into a  government job.


 


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