The Mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, has a message for undocumented immigrants in his town: Come vote!
Mayor John DeStefano said he will ask the state Legislature to allow undocumented immigrants to vote in municipal elections. He said his proposal would create a more engaged community.
“If you live here, you pay taxes here and send your kids to school here, you should be able to vote,” DeStefano told the New Haven Register.
Undocumented voters would still not be able to vote in state or federal elections.
DeStefano's statement was followed by a cool reaction from the governor, who said he would “hear the mayor out,” though wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.
If you live here, you pay taxes here and send your kids to school here, you should be able to vote.
"It's not an idea that I'm particularly comfortable with," said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat. "I think there are obligations that run with citizenship and there are privileges that run with citizenship."
New Haven has a reputation of being immigrant-friendly. In 2007, the city approved a program providing municipal identification cards for all residents, including undocumented immigrants, to provide services such as banking and using the library.
There are about 11,000 undocumented immigrants living in New Haven, the newspaper said.
If approved by the state legislature, New Haven would follow other municipalities that allow undocumented immigrants to vote in local elections.
Half a dozen municipalities in Maryland allow non-citizens to vote, and Chicago allows them to vote on school issues. San Francisco and Portland, Maine, are considering similar proposals.
Opponents say immigrants already have an avenue to cast ballots by becoming citizens. They say allowing non-citizens to vote dilutes the meaning of citizenship and could lead to fraud or skew elections.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.