The city council and mayor of College Park, Maryland, has decided in a vote that noncitizens, which can include, undocumented immigrants, student-visa holders and residents with green cards, to vote in the area’s future elections.
“Postponing it at this point will only increase tension.”
The original amendment that would have expanded the vote to include noncitizens was introduced back in June, with the initial vote being postponed until August, due to concern that city residents should be the ones to decide on the issue. According to Mayor Patrick Wojahn, a majority of those who gave comments supported expanding the voting rights of noncitizens.
“Postponing it at this point will only increase tension, will only increase the fervor,” Wojahn explained in a statement, “To me, expanding access to the right to vote in our city is something that expands our community voice, not something that contracts it.”
“A slap in the face to…Latino immigrants who have earned their citizenship.”
Council member Fazlul Kabir, himself a naturalized citizen, had introduced a second motion that would have limited the expansion to green-card holders, which would have excluded immigrants who are in the country illegally or those who hold student visas. However, the council voted against the motion. “I don’t think there is black and white here,” previously said Kabir in a statement, adding that the opposition to the vote cannot be rationalized as mere racism and xenophobia, adding, “I have been serving them for many years now, and I know they are not that type of people.”
For some, it has been suggested that the results of the decision are an insult to immigrants who worked hard to come to the country legally. “It’s a slap in the face to citizens, especially Latino immigrants who have earned their citizenship,” said Emily Weant, a resident and retired editor, who also added that the council had rushed the vote without properly consulting residents.
Rick Hudson, another resident who had also opposed the expansion, added that it felt that people were being scared into publicly supporting the issue, saying that, “I came here to have a civil discourse, and I was called a Nazi while I was waiting in line…People are afraid to speak one way or another on this issue.”
(H/T: The Washington Post)