We want to make sure all immigrants here have a say By Chelsea Schilling
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is seeking to grant illegal aliens the right to vote in school-board elections if the illegals' children attend taxpayer-funded schools.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced proposed charter amendment 100635 on May 18. The amendment may be added to the Nov. 2 ballot if at least six spuervisors vote for the legislation.
"One out of three parents of the kids in our public-school system is an immigrant," Chiu told CBS. "We want to make sure that they have an opportunity to have a say."
When a reporter asked Chiu whether it would concern him if illegal aliens vote, he responded, "What we don't want to do is turn our elections department into INS agents. That was an administrative situation that we wanted to avoid. Again, what we wanted to do is empower all parents and give them a voice in their kids' education."
"Even the ones that are here without documents?" the reporter inquired.
"We want to make sure all immigrants here have a say," Chiu replied.
He argued that in recent years jurisdictions in New York, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts have allowed noncitizens to vote. The San Francisco legislation states:
Charter Amendment (first draft) to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco by adding Section 13.111, to authorize San Francisco residents 18 years of age or older who are the parents, legal guardians or caregivers of children in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in elections for the Board of Education, regardless of whether the residents are United States citizens. However, according to the California Secretary of State's office, individuals may register to vote only if they meet the following criteria:
â– You are a resident of California â– You are at least 18 years of age â– You are not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction. â– You have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent â– You are a United States citizen Adding a separate ballot for noncitizens would cost taxpayers an estimated $250,000, according to San Francisco Elections Director Jon Arntz. He said adding a separate election would cost "a couple million dollars."
But Chiu told CBS, "I don't think it's going to be a significant cost burden."
Sponsors of the legislation include Chiu, David Campos, Eric Mar, John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi, Sophie Maxwell, Chris Daly and Bevan Dufty.
The plan mirrors a ballot measure that was narrowly rejected in 2004, with 51 percent of voters opposed and 49 percent approving. That measure, known as Proposition F, was promoted as an initiative to "empower the parents of one-third of our children in San Francisco public schools to have a say in how their children are educated."
The Immigrant Voting Project, a group working to expand voting to noncitizens, states, "Many of these students are citizens, whose needs are left behind because their parents lack a voice in their children's education."
The group adds, "Immigrant voting has a long history. For the first 150 years of our nation's history â€“ from 1776 until 1926, 22 states and territories allowed immigrants to vote and even hold office. Our founding fathers encouraged this practice based on the principle that allowing newcomers to vote encouraged them to build a stake and invest in local communities."
San Francisco is considered a sanctuary city and has an ordinance prohibiting city employees from assisting U.S. immigration authorities with investigations or arrests unless required to do so by federal or state law or a warrant. The city website displays the ordinance in English, Spanish and Chinese.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, on a 10-1 vote, recently approved a nonbinding resolution to boycott Arizona because of its recently passed immigration law.
(Note: Concerned individuals may e-mail the San Francisco Board of Supervisors or call (415)554-5184 or (415)554-5163.)