House Democrats Vote in Favor of Illegal Immigrants Voting in US Elections
Dems reject Republican move to prevent non-citizens getting voter rights
House Democrats voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing illegal immigrants to vote in US elections on Friday.
House Republicans offered an amendment on the House floor that would prevent illegal immigrants from being able to vote in US elections.
The bill was crushed by the Democratic House majority, however, with the motion being voted down 226-197.
The vote is a stunning reversal from just six months ago when the GOP-controlled chamber voted to decry illegal immigrant voting.
“We are prepared to open up the political process and let all of the people come in,” Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and hero of the civil rights movement, told colleagues as he led opposition to the GOP measure.
Earlier this week, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave a speech pushing for illegal immigrants to be awarded voting rights in the US, claiming migrants “make America more American,” and we should not be “suppressing the vote of our newcomers.”
Pelosi declared that immigrants entering the US should be accredited with adding to the "constant reinvigoration" of American families while speaking at a news conference on voting rights with Rep. Lloyd Dogget (D-TX) in Austin, Texas on Tuesday.
Clearly avoiding the use of the word "immigrants" House Speaker Pelosi said, "newcomers" should "be fully part of our system" after arriving in the United States.
According to the Washington Times, the 228-197 vote came as part of a broader debate on Democrats’ major legislative priority this year, HR 1, the “For the People Act,” which includes historic expansions of voter registration and access, as well as a major rewrite of campaign finance laws.
The measure would have had no practical effect even if it had passed.
Illegal immigrants — and indeed noncitizens as a whole — are not legally able to participate in federal elections.
But Republicans had hoped to send a message to localities such as San Francisco, where noncitizens are now allowed to vote in school board elections.
“It sounds like I’m making it up,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Texas Republican.
"What kind of government would cancel the vote of its own citizens, and replace it with noncitizens?"
He pointed to last year’s vote when 49 Democrats joined the GOP to decry noncitizen voting.
On Friday just six Democrats voted in favor.
A 1996 federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections, but there is no prohibition on localities, and indeed a number of jurisdictions allow it, to some extent.
Famously liberal Takoma Park, a small jurisdiction in Maryland, has for several decades allowed noncitizens, including illegal immigrants, to vote in local elections.
Experts say as many as 40 states or territories allowed noncitizen voting dating back to the nation’s founding.
San Francisco in July began allowing noncitizens to vote in school board elections — though they must be parents or legal guardians of students.