By golly, Beantown had started to look like they were running out of ways to #RESIST in the Trump era, but never underestimate the municipal government of Boston. If you want to make a statement regarding the immigration debate, what better way then to open up your local elections to non-citizens. That’s right… if a new measure coming before the city council passes, some local elections will be open to everyone, whether they have bothered to become a citizen or not. Though to be fair, they’re only talking about legal non-citizens. At least for now. (The Hill)
Officials in Boston are considering allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections, according to the Associated Press.
The City Council’s Committee on Government Operations is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss allowing immigrant residents with legal status in the United States to participate in municipal elections.
“The purpose of our local government, including the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, is to strengthen the ability of diverse, cultural, and linguistic communities to play an active role in the economic, civic, social and cultural life of the City of Boston,” City Council President Andrea Campbell, who requested the hearing, said earlier this year, according to a local ABC affiliate.
It remains illegal for non-citizens to vote in federal elections under a law passed in the 90s. States can technically allow non-citizens to vote, but none of them have done so since Arkansas abandoned the practice nearly a century ago. But if Boston makes this move, they won’t be jumping into the pool alone. Ten municipalities in Maryland allow non-citizens to vote in their local elections and a couple of places allow them to vote in school board elections.
Keeping with the basic conservative principle of local government governing best, this decision is up to the voters and their elected representatives. If a choice like this represents the will and values of the community then they are fully within their rights to make this move. (Assuming the non-citizens in question are in the country legally as explained in the linked article.)
But with all that said, isn’t voting and participating in representative government (at any level) supposed to be one of the perks of becoming a citizen to begin with? Permanent resident aliens (as they are known) are still technically guests in the country, albeit ones who never have to leave as long as they stay out of serious trouble. Citizenship carries with it rights and rewards which, in theory at least, motivate those seeking to immigrate along the path to full citizenship. If there’s no advantage to being a citizen, why bother?
Well, best of luck to you, Boston. Be sure to let us know what your next brilliant plan is. Perhaps you can vote to make all the ICE agents wear bells around their necks.