The bill that Councilman Danny Dromm has sponsored would allow noncitizen immigrants to vote in city elections after living here for only six months. Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. and a few others oppose the six-month minimum, as it is a very short amount of time to bypass citizenship.
We are a city of immigrants, and most of us come from a proud family of immigrants. If Dromm wants to lobby the federal government to make it easier for noncitizens to become citizens, we should back that idea. But to discount what it means to be a citizen by watering down this important right is hasty.
It is true that there are some cities in Maryland that allow noncitizen voting. But Maryland is only now trying to shed the reputation that it has for mishandling immigration issues.
There is no question that those who are working hard in this city deserve a voice in their government. Dromm is right about that, but why not become citizens first, and then vote after that?
This is no time to wave a flag and make people feel unwelcome, but allowing people to vote before citizenship may be putting the cart before the horse. Let’s encourage citizenship, not make it irrelevant. How would we teach our children that voting is an act of good citizenship, if citizenship is not really a part of that equation?
There is a way to sponsor respectful public policy while not excluding groups of people. The answer is to help them become citizens.
Mayoral Race Benefits Queens
Having written about the possibility of how former congressman Anthony Weiner would govern as mayor, I got some push back from readers that I left out the reason why he resigned from the House of Representatives.
My guess is that you know why he resigned. There is no reason to write the same column that everyone else is writing. Weiner jumping into this race, however, does put Queens in the unique position of heightened relevance.
Queens is “in play” because four candidates are working to build their campaigns here. Speaker Christine Quinn has picked up important support in Queens this year, including this week from the Queens Democratic Party, which she has also gotten in the past. Bill Thompson has been working on endorsements in Queens. Then you have John Liu and Anthony Weiner, who are both from Queens (Weiner originally represented a Brooklyn-Queens district).
If Weiner does well without endorsements, he can run this race as an outsider. In reality, he is by no means an outsider. He might, however, be able to sell the message that by not gobbling up endorsements from the party establishment that he is the non-establishment candidate.
That would be the wise strategy for Team Weiner: issues over party.
In the end, it is fair to project that there will be a run-off in this race. This is going to be a race, followed by a race, followed by an election. The Republicans would be in a decent position if they had a unified candidate and campaign to wait out the Democrats, but that appears to be a work in progress.