The brand-new York City Council’s recent decision to provide some 800,000 noncitizens the right to vote might, on the surface, it seems to be ~ just and also appropriate. After ~ all, those legit city residents have the right to be said to endure (high) taxation without representation. But this stark exit from historical precedent has a variety of serious flaws for those who truly believe in “e pluribus unum” — a country whose voters share essential civic ideals.

As a helpful matter, the council action allows these brand-new voters, such together illegal immigrants, to jump the heat of those who have waited for years to prepare to come to be citizens. It is a process that takes up to three years because that those that have currently qualified for the “green card” hosted by legit immigrants. Coming to be a citizen needs one to salary a $725 fee and also pass a 100-question citizenship check — a process designed to do sure brand-new voters are exposed to an easy American history and principles.

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The test the the the supervisory board is allowing new voters to skip is not some formality. It tests expertise with which any type of American voter have to be familiar. First, it’s available only in English — which any type of immigrant with wishes of achieving financial success will should master and also which binds the country together culturally. Simply as important, however, is the contents of the test. The council apparently feels the not necessary for voter to know about the bill of Rights; the the U.S. Constitution is the supreme legislation of the land; to be able to define liberty of religion; to know what the branches of government are; or the surname of your state capital.


There’s a lot an ext than what is noted above. Try taking the test yourself or check to view if your high school-age child have the right to pass. The allude is this: The citizenship test is not voter suppression. It’s critical basic ready for one to become an educated voter.

It also includes what is still called an oath that allegiance. The language is an effective and contains a pledge no unlike that which a brand-new president swears “that I will certainly support and defend the Constitution and laws the the United claims of America against all enemies, foreign and also domestic (and) the I will certainly bear true faith and allegiance come the same.” In relocating naturalization ceremonies held regularly across the country, brand-new citizens raise their hands to take an oath, having studied and saved for the possibility to perform so. The new York City board of directors is telling them it no necessary, devaluing their achievement. 

The appropriate course of action for local government — and civil culture community groups, also — is come encourage legal immigrant to become citizens. It is what new York’s renowned settlement houses did throughout our last great wave of immigration at the rotate of the 20th century. Those neighborhood leaders taken that common political values — as distinct from political views on any type of given worry — are essential for a to work American democracy. One handy step is to reduced the price of the citizenship test. Questioning a married pair to pay nearly $1,500 to come to be American citizens is a lot come ask that those making e-bike deliveries or flipping burgers.


What’s more, citizenship will enable for miscellaneous the city the supervisory board cannot: the right to vote in federal elections. Together matters stand, conference districts room drawn based upon the variety of residents, not the variety of legal votes. That means that districts such as that the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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Alexandria Ocasio-CortezClyburn to democrats itching for management role: "If you desire my seat, come obtain it" Omar allies dig in ~ above calls for Boebert punishment House to vote next week ~ above Islamophobia bill, holding meadows in contempt much more (D-N.Y.) have much fewer voters — and she receives far fewer votes — than typical Republican districts v fewer immigrants. This important is taxes without representation. These brand-new immigrants deserve to vote only if lock citizens. 

Let’s hope the new York City Council action faces legal difficulty and walk not become law. It’s negative for those it pretends to aid and the sets a dangerous criterion for America.

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Howard Husock is a senior fellow in domestic policy studies at the American companies Institute (AEI), whereby he focuses on municipal government, urban housing policy, polite society, and philanthropy. He served on the Brookings fight it out immigration plan Roundtable in 2008-09.