The Santa Ana City Council in Orange County, California is considering a highly debated proposition: granting noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants, the right to vote in local elections. At a recent meeting of the City Council, Jonathan Hernandez expressed support for the proposal, as reported by KTLA.
“I do believe that noncitizen voting in local elections is about increasing civic engagement,” Hernandez told KTLA. “Taxation without representation is a value that America holds dear. So we want to advance those rights. I believe that non-citizen voting is a step in the right direction.”
Santa Ana is the second largest city in Orange County and is located 35 miles south of Los Angeles. According to the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, there are 153,900 immigrants residing in Santa Ana, making up 46 percent of the total population. Additionally, 102,000 non-citizens living in Santa Ana could be vulnerable to deportation. Across California, statistics show that 10.7 million immigrants make up 27 percent of the state’s population. Further, 5.3 million non-citizens residing within California could face the risk of deportation.
Not all are in agreement with the idea of granting voting rights to illegal immigrants. Critics contend that doing so would diminish the importance of American citizenship.
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“If we start allowing noncitizens to vote, even if they’re here legally, we dilute the value of being an American citizen,” said Monica, a local resident.
“I came here legally as a naturalized citizen,” said an O.C. resident identified only as GD. “I had to wait five years and I took the oath for this country. I swore an allegiance to this country, to the Constitution and to the laws. I believe the citizens should be the ones to have the right and the privilege to vote.”
Some who attended the meeting criticized those who were against the measure.
“I love when we have extreme right-wing folks show up to tell you what you shouldn’t do because throughout history we have always had those folks denying the right to vote to many people of color,” said Carlos Perea, a Santa Ana resident.