The right to vote is among many rights and privileges usually reserved for citizens (or at least legal residents) that S. 7879, “The New York Is Home Act,” extends to state residents who are in the United States illegally.
Rep. Karim Camara introduced a companion bill, A10129, in the state assembly. The act states that it “extends voting rights to all State Citizens. State Citizens may vote in all State and local elections.”
Rivera says that his New York Is Home Act is the first bill in the United States that would provide such extensive rights to non-citizens who can show they have lived and paid taxes in New York for at least three years — regardless of their immigration status.
“Nearly 3 million people in the state of New York currently reside here and make New York their home, but can’t fully participate in civic, political, and economic life,” Rivera said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
Under the legislation, applicants for state citizenship would have to take an oath to uphold the state’s constitution and laws, and pledge their willingness to serve on a jury, according to the bill summary.
Apparently, no pledge to obey federal immigration laws would be required to obtain New York State citizenship. And while constitutionalists may uphold the right of each state to determine it own qualifications for voting, S. 7879 sets a bad precedent by granting privileges traditionally reserved for citizens to those who have not yet earned a place at the table by adhering to the legal requirements to become first legal residents, and then citizens. The Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America that all immigrants take when they become U.S. citizens states: "I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Obviously, those who have violated our immigration laws are not defending our laws, and do not meet a prerequisite for citizenship, which should also be a prerequisite for voting.
As we noted, the New York Is Home Act mandates an oath to uphold the state’s constitution and laws, but says nothing about federal laws. Upon meeting the requirements, non-citizens — including those here in violation of federal immigration law — would receive a form of state citizenship, granting them access to Medicaid coverage, professional licensing, resident tuition assistance, and driver’s licenses, in addition to the above-mentioned voting rights.
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