The brand-new York City Council’s current decision to offer some 800,000 noncitizens the appropriate to poll might, top top the surface, it seems to be ~ just and also appropriate. After ~ all, those legit city residents can be claimed to endure (high) taxes without representation. But this stark departure from historical precedent has a variety of serious flaws for those who truly believe in “e pluribus unum” — a nation whose voter share essential public ideals.

As a handy matter, the council action allows these brand-new voters, such together illegal immigrants, to jump the heat of those who have waited because that years come prepare to come to be citizens. That’s a process that takes up to three years for those that have already qualified because that the “green card” organized by legit immigrants. Coming to be a citizen requires one to salary a $725 fee and also pass a 100-question citizenship check — a procedure designed to do sure brand-new voters are exposed to simple American history and principles.

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The test that the board of directors is allowing brand-new voters come skip is no some formality. That tests knowledge with which any kind of American voter should be familiar. First, it’s readily available only in English — which any immigrant with wishes of achieving economic success will have to master and which binds the country together culturally. Simply as important, however, is the content of the test. The council supposedly feels that not important for voters to know around the bill of Rights; that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme legislation of the land; to be able to define freedom of religion; to understand what the branches of government are; or the surname of their state capital.


There’s a lot more than what is detailed above. Shot taking the test yourself or checking to view if her high school-age child can pass. The suggest is this: The citizenship check is not voter suppression. It’s vital basic preparation for one to end up being an educated voter.

It likewise includes what is still referred to as an oath that allegiance. The language is an effective and has a pledge not unlike the which a new president swears “that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United says of America against all enemies, foreign and also domestic (and) that I will bear true faith and allegiance come the same.” In relocating naturalization ceremonies held regularly across the country, new citizens raise their hands to take an oath, having actually studied and saved because that the possibility to perform so. The brand-new York City council is telling them it no necessary, devaluing your achievement. 

The ideal course of action for local federal government — and also civil culture community groups, as well — is come encourage legal immigrant to end up being citizens. It is what new York’s famed settlement dwellings did during our last good wave of immigration at the turn of the 20th century. Those regional leaders construed that shared political values — as distinctive from political see on any type of given issue — are important for a work American democracy. One helpful step is to reduced the expense of the citizenship test. Questioning a married pair to pay practically $1,500 to end up being American citizens is a lot to ask the those make e-bike deliveries or flipping burgers.


What’s more, citizenship will allow for something the city the supervisory board cannot: the appropriate to vote in federal elections. Together matters stand, conference districts are drawn based on the number of residents, not the number of legal votes. That method that districts such together that the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Alexandria Ocasio-CortezClyburn to democracy itching for leadership role: "If you desire my seat, come get it" Omar allies destruction in on calls for Boebert penalty House to vote following week top top Islamophobia bill, holding meadows in contempt an ext (D-N.Y.) have much fewer voter — and she receives much fewer votes — than typical Republican districts v fewer immigrants. This truly is taxation without representation. These brand-new immigrants can vote only if lock citizens. 

Let’s hope the new York City Council action faces legal difficulty and walk not come to be law. It’s poor for those it pretends to assist and it sets a dangerous precedent for America.

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Howard Husock is a an elderly fellow in domestic policy researches at the American enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on municipal government, urban housing policy, civil society, and also philanthropy. He offered on the Brookings battle each other immigration policy Roundtable in 2008-09.