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Voting Rights: Immigrant NYers Secure Largest Expansion of NYC’s Democracy in 100 Years

New York, NY-Today (December 9th) the New York City Council passed Intro 1867, which expands the right to vote in municipal elections to roughly 900,000 non-citizen New Yorkers with legal permanent residence status or other valid work authorization.

The Our City, Our Vote Coalition (OCOV), New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), United Neighborhood Houses, allies, and immigrant New Yorkers have worked for years to secure the passage of this historic legislation. The most significant expansion of NYC’s democracy in over a century, today’s vote also marked a significant victory in the ongoing fight for voting rights across the country. “Today, we finally gave immigrant New Yorkers who raise their kids here, build our economy, and contribute to this vibrant city every single day a voice in their local democracy,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “This groundbreaking legislation gives nearly one million New Yorkers a voice in the issues we all care about; the quality of our schools, the safety of our streets, and countless other large and small ways the city government impacts our lives. Now, it’s time for Mayor de Blasio to immediately sign Intro 1867 into law. This legislation will usher in the largest enfranchisement of New Yorkers in more than a century and marks a bold step forward in the fight for protecting and expanding democracy. NYC can once again serve as a model for cities and counties across the country. When powerful forces lobby to restrict access to the ballot box and seek to turn our country back, New York can and must offer a strong reminder that our leaders don’t get to choose their voters. The voters choose who leads them.”

"Immigrants are New Yorkers through and through, and today's City Council vote gives them a voice in the neighborhoods where they live, work, and participate in civic life,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses. “With this outcome, Speaker Johnson and the City Council have corrected a historical inequality and given power to voices that have been silenced for far too long. We celebrate today's victory with our City Council champion, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, our many Our City, Our Vote coalition partners and supporters, and the roughly 900,000 New Yorkers enfranchised by this legislation. We now call on Mayor de Blasio to sign Intro 1867 into law immediately and take the final step to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers can participate in our democracy." “It is no secret, we are making history today. 50 years down the line when our children look back at this moment they will see a diverse coalition of advocates who came together to write a new chapter in New York City’s history by giving immigrant New Yorkers the power of the ballot,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “What we are doing here today is nothing new. The City of Tacoma Park in Maryland has been allowing non-citizens to vote in their municipal elections since the 1990s. 13 other Cities in Maryland, including California, and Illinois allow non-citizens the right to vote. It is time for New York City to take the baton. I want to thank The New York Immigration Coalition, United Neighborhood Houses, Speaker Johnson, Council Members Daniel Dromm, Margaret Chin, and Carlos Menchaca, and the Our City, Our Vote Coalition for all their support in getting this bill passed.” "NYC has an aura. There is something palpable in the air that draws people to it. It is the city of dreams, a city that is built on the diversity of its people,” said Ali Rashid, President of American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG). “NYC is an amalgamation of people of different backgrounds, cultures, and socioeconomic standings. People from all over the world come here in the hopes of chasing the American dream. It is heartwarming for the American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG) to be a part of the Our City Our Vote Coalition in passing historic legislation in Intro 1867. It is the culmination of tireless efforts both day and night to allow NYC to become the largest city in the nation to enfranchise immigrants - to give them agency and opportunity to grasp at their dreams."

"Today, we honor the many sacrifices the millions of immigrant New Yorkers make every day to make New York City the incredible city it is," said Robert Agyemang, NY Director, African Communities Together. "Today, New York City has decided that it will no longer hold back their hardest-working residents and set the standard that should be followed in every municipality across the nation. We will continue to work with the Our City Our Vote Coalition and its supporters to create a true and equal democracy that stands for and represents the people. ALL of its people."

"With people of color expected to become the majority in this country within just a few years, it is no surprise that people are actively opposing and organizing against the legislation to allow permanent residents in NYC to vote in municipal elections, a group of people that are a predominantly people of color,” said Adeel Ahmed, Community Organizer, The Black Institute. “That is why we have said this before and are saying again that this is not just an issue of electoral justice but also an issue of racial, social, and socioeconomic justice. While many try to suppress the vote, Intro 1867 expands the vote. This is what democracy looks like."

"While conducting voter outreach among diverse populations in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, we met many residents who wanted to vote and become more civically engaged but were not yet able to. We are excited that the City Council will be voting on this important legislation to expand civic participation," said Mae Lee, Executive Director, Chinese Progressive Association. "This is a joyful moment of recognition of immigrant power. Municipal laws and regulations affect immigrants directly, so it is imperative that immigrants take part in the democratic process,” said Stephanie Mulcock, Esq., Executive Director, Garra (formerly named Cidadão Global). “We are elated that our lawmakers took this concrete step towards enfranchising immigrants and recognizing the strength they bring to our community, our laws, and our democracy."

“LatinoJustice today joins with our many OCOV community allies and partners in celebrating a truly historic moment for New York City with the passing of Intro. 1867, which will expand voting rights in local municipal elections to nearly a million hardworking and dedicated, legal permanent residents,” said Cesar Z. Ruiz, Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow (Sponsored by the Lavan-Harris Family), LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “At a time when voting rights across the country are openly under attack, the passage of Intro. 1867 represents NYC’s collective commitment to ensuring that the franchise remains open to all those who contribute to the Big Apple’s viability, while also ensuring equitable representation to long-time immigrant residents of our nation.”

“Queens Community House has been involved in