LatinoJustice Testifies at City Hall In Support of Intro. No. 410

New York could be the first major city in the U.S. to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections under a bill before a City Council committee on Thursday.

The bill would let immigrants living here legally for at least six months cast votes for mayor and other municipal offices.

We are proud to stand up for our immigrant community and ask that they be given the right to vote in NYC elections. This is the testimony from Jackson Chin, Senior Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Good afternoon. I am pleased to provide testimony in support of lntro. 410. My name is Jackson Chin. I am Senior Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. We are a non-partisan not-for-profit national civil rights litigation and advocacy organization which promotes the aspirations of Latinos in America. We promote civil engagement and leadership, and defend equality under the law through impact litigation, advocacy and education. Since 1972, LatinoJustice's civil rights cases have made history and set landmarks.

Today,nearly 40% of New York City's population (that is, over 3 million out of 8 million plus) was born outside of the United States; the ma jority of our City's residents- almost 60 %- are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. For generations, our City has been renewed in its social and cultural diversity acting as a gateway for newcomers who bring their unique heritage to our nation.

LatinoJustice supports lntro. No. 410 because it is a rational initiative based on sound social and political policy which advances inclusion and democratic values. This bill will: a) promote civic engagement and reduce marginalization in local governance; b) support inclusion and help draw upon the knowledge, skills, and motivation of City residents; and, c) promote the quality of life of New York through advancing political and non-political processes that engage and contribute to the common good.

First, we recognize that a significant number of the City's immigrant residents - our families, neighbors, co-workers, and friends - are true stakeholders that share common goals in preserving the good economy, health,

and stability of our City. Immigrants are, without a doubt, subject to all of our laws, pay taxes, work in and/or own businesses, repair and build homes, send their children to schools, serve in the military, and provide valued daycare services. They watch over our vulnerable and the elderly. Altogether, the lives of immigrant residents demonstrate that they are participants in all aspects of this City's daily social and economic life on the same basis as citizen residents.

Second, non-citizen immigrant residents often share the same desire to have a voice in local issues. Granting the right to vote in local elections and to petition their municipal representatives reinforces the dynamism and contributions of immigrant residents. Along with our diverse immigrant communities,this City's Latino population has consistently grown in past decades. Immigrant newcomers have come from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Central and South America. (And, Latinos from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.)

Despite enormous work and family responsibilities, many immigrants do make time to become civically involved. Very often, they may be drawn into action with others around issues that affect the well-being of their families. Problem-solving over such issues are vital to attract immigrants and broad enough to bring together people from different backgrounds and the native-born.

Read the testimony of Senior Counsel, Jackson Chin here.

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