Image by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

By Lucia Mejia Cardenas, age 13

The New York City Council passed a bill on Dec. 9 granting noncitizens the right to vote in municipal elections. Starting in 2023, green card holders, Dreamers and lawful permanent residents will be able to vote in local elections. 

“Immigrants pay taxes, they use city services,” Corey Johnson, speaker of New York City Council, explained. “Their kids go to our public schools. They are part of our community, and they deserve a say in local government.” The bill was passed 33-14, meaning it could be vetoed. However, former Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that he will not do this. 

New York City is now the largest U.S. region to allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. Ten percent of the city’s population are green card holders or other documented immigrants, so the bill impacts over 800,000 people. Opponents of the bill say it violates the state’s Constitution and that the minimum required length of residency, 30 days, is too short. Nevertheless, this new bill is groundbreaking in terms of immigrants’ voting rights in the United States.