Mayor: Let All New Haven Immigrants Vote

Melissa Bailey PhotoAs the federal government moves to deport more immigrants, Mayor John DeStefano disclosed a plan on an opposite track: To lobby the state legislature to allow all New Haven’s immigrants, including non-citizens, to vote in local elections.

DeStefano (pictured) made the disclosure Tuesday morning after a press conference outside the Columbus Family Academy at 255 Blatchley Ave., where he and other politicians gathered to announce their opposition to the federal “Secure Communities initiative” to deport more immigrants who are here illegally.

DeStefano said he plans to lobby the state for a “resident voting rights” bill that would allow any resident of New Haven—regardless of immigration status—to vote in municipal elections in New Haven. He said he’ll launch the effort during this upcoming legislative session, which runs from February to May.

The bill is about “how you define community, and how you define responsibility in community,” he said.

Several Maryland municipalities already allow non-citizen voting, including Takoma Park, which granted illegal immigrants the right to vote in 1992. Chicago allows non-citizens to vote in school board elections. The proposal has failed in some other communities, such as San Francisco and Portland, Maine.

DeStefano proposed allowing all New Haven residents the right to vote, as long as they provide identification and proof of residency. That’s the same basis by which he offered the immigrant-friendly municipal ID card in 2007. (Currently, only U.S. citizens can vote in elections.)

DeStefano estimated that New Haven has 10,000 non-citizen immigrants, maybe half of them above the age of 18.

The mayor’s quest to make New Haven more inclusive of its immigrant community launched him into the national spotlight in 2007. He also had the police department issue a general order preventing officers from inquiring into people’s immigration status. His latest voting effort is likely to do the same.

DeStefano said the idea found favor this week in Westville, where he ran into an English couple living here on green cards without the right to vote in the States.

“You are the ones who argued about taxation without representation,” the couple said to him, he recalled. It’s only fair that all taxpayers have the right to vote, they argued. DeStefano said his bill would help not just undocumented immigrants, but those who might be here legally but don’t have the right to vote.

DeStefano will need the support of legislators in order to make any headway at the Capitol. He was asked if New Haven’s state delegation is supporting his effort.

“We’ve got some education to do on this,” he replied.

DeStefano will need a committee to introduce the bill, the practice in “short session” years at the legislature.

He found some first-blush support with state Rep. Juan Candelaria of New Haven.

“I agree with him that anyone who resides in the city of New Haven should have the ability to vote,” Candelaria said. “I don’t know about the legalities, but if you work in the state, your kids attend local schools and you’ve been a resident for a fair amount of time, that would make sense.”

Candelaria predicted that “it’s not going to be easy” to pass a non-citizen voting bill. The legislature “had a hard time” passing even the DREAM act, which granted in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented immigrants.

New Haven State Rep. Roland Lemar declined comment on the proposal, saying he had just learned about it.

Nationally, a movement to grant non-citizen immigrants local voting rights has sprung up in “close to two dozen states,” according to Michele Wucker, president of the World Policy Institute and author of Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right.

“The idea is that when you live in a city, you are essentially a citizen of that city, which is separate form federal or national citizenship,” Wucker said Tuesday. “The logic is that everybody is better off when everyone on their block and in their town has a stake in staying on top of issues and working together and to get safe and clean streets, good schools, reliable transportation, and good health care.

“The other part of the argument is that from the beginning of U.S. history until the 1920s, non-citizen voting was very common, at one point in 44 states and territories, at various levels. The movement now is for local elections. In most cases, with the exceptions of school boards, it’s for people who have their papers, who are legal. This is not illegal immigrants voting for president.”

Campaigns for local voting rights usually include all immigrants here legally when it comes to municipal elections (like for mayor), and include undocumented immigrants when it comes to school board elections, Wucker said.

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: Karen on December 13, 2011  4:03pm

Non-citizens means illigal immigrants voting in local elections to assure the mayor can not lose the next election which he almost did this past election. The mayor is out of control!

[Editor: Non-citizen also means people here with legal permission.]

posted by: on December 13, 2011  4:05pm

...This takes the cake. He has no respect for our constitutions and laws. He squeezed by in the primary, came the closest he has ever come to being kicked out of office in the general election, and now wants to give illegal aliens the right to vote. Why, so he can be assured of reigning forever by whatever means.  He reminds me of Hugo Chavez.

posted by: DKR on December 13, 2011  4:28pm

as pkust said,..this really does take the cake,...this great country of ours will no longer be,..if we keep allowing anyone in,...and is defined as “illegal”,...and doesn’t do their part to contribute….

posted by: Unreal on December 13, 2011  4:47pm

As a LEGAL immigrant who became a citizen, all I can say is this is the most screwed up thing I have ever, ever heard proposed (and, I couldn’t vote for many, many years and I still can’t understand where this is coming from).

This could, if passed, create a snowball effect that could end up giving more rights to some in the class of non-citizen immigrants (namely the illegal ones) that operate under Uncle Sam’s radar.  It opens up a very, very slippery slope.  What’s next?

This city has so many issues that, as a property owner supporting this administration’s financial mess, it makes me sick he is wasting his time (our time) on issues like this.

How about lobbying the state legislature to change our state’s property tax structure so you can get more buy-in to our city from our county Mr. Mayor.

Don’t waste our tax dollars on BS like this!  ...

posted by: Eric Smith on December 13, 2011  5:08pm

I go back and forth on my opinion when it comes to illegal immigrants.  To help me with this issue, can someone answer a question for me?  If someone is in America illegally, what’s the process for becoming a legal citizen?  What are the roadblocks?  Part of my thinking is that if someone is here illegally, but their motives are pure and they want to just come, live, and provide for their family, they would be willing to go through the process of becoming a legal citizen. So, is the process of becoming a legal citizen part of the problem?

posted by: Fair Haven Resident on December 13, 2011  5:08pm

I’m with you Karen; it’s a lot of nonsense. One thing was the City ID program, but voting and making decisions?? Nothing against them, I know a lot of illegal immigrants and I know they would vote for him, a lot of times they get the information from “one” source only/the wrong source. Can’t believe it, what is next!!

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 13, 2011  5:13pm

I would like to think of myself as a person who defends immigrants.  I am a supporter of the ID card…(even have one). I think the new community security thing is a bit scary for community’s such as ours with a large number of immigrants.  Here to work. Or here to stay.  I understand and support and welcome them.  I how ever think that the feds need to come up with a better set of rules to allow the people that are here in our country to come out from hiding . And allow them to be able to go home and visit and be able to come back. Ect. And allow, so many in and out at any given time. (I do think that they contribute to our country). 
I do however draw the line at voting.  I think JD must be bucking for a job in the future…as a consultant or something.
Until the immigrants can
1) go through the citizenship program
2) and become citizen .
They cannot be drafted and they cannot vote.

To allow this will allow our government to be even more manipulated.  How can someone vote in a country if they do not have the knowledge of how it is ran. And what their rights are as citizens. (which they would not be) These are the same people who fear cops! Do we not think the same fear apply’s to politicians? This to me is a game in JD chestgame for his future. 
Again I am a support of the ID card and I am empathic to the plight of many that call our city home. But this I can not agree with.

and my guess is many do not. But in fear of not being PC will bitch about it behind closed doors.

posted by: SouthWest on December 13, 2011  5:14pm

The most amazing thing about this debate is some people calling illegals “non-Citizens. With all these so call Americans screaming about the constitution and these people shouldn’t be here. I believe we took this country from the Indians,running them off there land,killing and raping their women. The Indians should be the one’s telling us, this is their country and ‘we should take a “hike”. There are illegals from all races that are here not just Mexicans. Do that means they will be deported to? As long as the order mean all illegals then maybe people will accept it. Why don’t we see the Indians screaming about this instead of these so call true Americans.  I haven’t met a true American yet in this country because they all came by boat air etc. Boy do these people have a short memory.

posted by: roger huzendubel on December 13, 2011  5:24pm

ICE is not working well for this country. about 25 % of all federal prisoners are locked up for “illegal reentry” or some similar BS charge. So if a guy gets deported and tries to come back across the border and gets caught he ends up in the feds for on average 5 years and then deported. And let me tell you firsthand about 90 % of these people were working manual labor jobs on the streets the other 10 % are no good and should be kicked out. So in the end we want them out of our country but we spend 50k to keep them in the feds in this country? I DARE anyone to show me how this money could be more foolishly spent.

posted by: Vigilius on December 13, 2011  5:26pm

I was going to post something about how citizenship should mean something, then I remembered this is New Haven, where elections are rigged and your vote is nothing but a dog and pony show to keep the citizenry from looking too closely at the .... in power. Giving away the vote here is utterly meaningless. If anything, immigrants should be offended. It’s like being offered Dom Perignon and getting Night Train instead.

posted by: walt bradley on December 13, 2011  5:27pm

We should also let all of the citizens of East Haven, Hamden and Branford vote in New Haven elections.

posted by: TRJR on December 13, 2011  5:36pm

Kudos to the Mayor for again exercising the courage to do the right thing! When people feel
part and parcel of their neighborhoods, their
districts and their cities, they are most likely to cooperate and join in with efforts
leading to better schools,housing,safety,and
programming that helps everyone. New Haven`s
leadership in giving all of it`s residents the
benefits of residency and the relevant respon-
sibility should be applauded. This request to
permit all residents to vote locally is a
logical extension to the municipal ID card
project, the approval of the DREAM Act for
students, and the Police order relating to
questions about status. Maybe if we all focused
on how to welcome new neighbors instead of
painting people with ethnocentric,xenophobic,
and sometimes racist stripes, we would all see
the value in helping fellow humans become fellow citizens. Let`s support the glass being
half full rather than half empty!

posted by: Edward Francis on December 13, 2011  5:44pm

Great idea…this compliments the Selective Service registration that requires Male U.S. citizens and immigrants, documented and undocumented, residing in the U.S. and its territories to register if they are age 18 through 25.  And just what is Selective Service Registration? In case one doesn’t know it is the process by which the U.S. Government collects nanes and addresses of men age 18 through 25 to use in case of a national emergency, determined by Congress and the President which would require rapid expansion of the Armed Forces.  Men are required to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday as stated in the Military Selective Service Act.

Not registering is a felony,  Young men prosecuted and convicted of failure to register may be fined up to $250,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both.  Failure to register may cause men to permanently lose eligibility for student financial aid, government employment, job training, and U.S. citizenship for male immigrants.

In plain English or any other language it means the Draft (should it happen again) just like millions of American and immigrants were subjected to during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and yes even peace time. If one registers to vote - one must also register, if between age 18 & 25, for possible service in the Armed Forces of the United states.

posted by: Blame the Mayor on December 13, 2011  5:51pm

Better Hide! Here comes ICE again!
The last time the ‘good’ King John was going to ‘help’ all these illegal aliens with his ID card program the entire illegal community went underground, didn’t go to work or get paid, and kept their kids out of school for two weeks. I believe some 38 of them got deported and spent some serious time in jail before being sent to their native countries. All so the King could get a little national media coverage. This is a political sham at best, and won’t help any illegal aliens and will probably cause the same fiasco again.
The Mayor of New Haven should spend time trying to balance the budget or stopping the horrific murder spree in the city, not trying to institute his own national immigration policy.
King John, why don’t you ask the 38 deportees, now back in Mexico or Ecuador or wherever they are besides New Haven, how the ID card is working out for them.
ICE didn’t like your political posturing last time and I bet they will be raiding homes and businesses in Haven within the month.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 13, 2011  6:09pm

DeStefano has made a career out of dumbing down and diminishing standards of conduct in just about any area of governance he has touched across the last 30 years.

This is just the latest and arguably, one of the most egregious. His flexible and arbitrary accounting practices have made New Haven broke. We are carrying off balance sheet debt that in any normal situation would be outlawed. Claims that the annual budget is balanced is patently false.

Graduation rates have been manipulated for years by knowingly using intentionally skewed formulas even as DeStefano celebrated microscopic improvement in test results only by lowering the expectations.

But this is fundamentally different. It skews Democracy and attempts to create and confer a special right on folks who have not done the hard work of actually becoming a real citizen.

One is not a citizen simply by virtue of occupying space any more than a squatter on somebody’s land is somehow entitled to determine what is done with that land. Whether DeStefano likes it or not, there are rules governing voting. Voting goes with real citizenship not just residency.

Citizenship has meaning and purpose. It means you’ve adopted a country not your own and that country in a show of mutual agreement and affection, has adopted you and taken responsibility for you.

Moreover, DeStefano’s unilateral decision to lay out this agenda item for the upcoming legislative session shows a real disdain and disrespect for legal immigrants who played by the rules. People who filled out the paperwork and waited in line to become citizens. They broke no laws, or if they did, they took the initiative to make it right. Some chose to join our armed forces and fight for this country as a way to gain citizenship.

Further, I suggest that this last election in which DeStefano only won by 1,000 votes after being rejected by registered Democrats is the real reason behind this latest act of hubris. Besides shaking down city contractors for nearly three quarters of a million dollars to stay in power and keep handing out sweetheart deals, he now intends to further prostitute Democracy by stuffing the ballot box with most likely single issue voters who are not even citizens. They’re residents and that’s a big difference.

posted by: e pluribus unum on December 13, 2011  6:42pm

Why have a government at all? Why have laws or a Constitution? This is the biggest slap in the face to all those who came here legally, and went through all the proper channels to gain citizenship. By doing that they gained a real appreciation of what citizenship means. It is not something handed out like candy for votes. It is a responsibility. It is respect for the rule of law.
This is pandering to the politically correct(“liberally correct”) to get more votes. Shameful that this is even being considered.

posted by: GMG on December 13, 2011  6:54pm

How can someone who is not a citizen legally vote? In what state? What in the world is this?

Does this man run his own private planet?

posted by: Observer on December 13, 2011  7:10pm

Absolutely comical!  Johnny D “wins” re-election in an election that saw the fewest voters ever, and he won by the smallest margin ever.  His solution, let all the undocumented folks vote because he is convinced that they believe he is their “friend”.  After all, didn’t he give them “rights”? And what is Juan Candelaria doing behind him supporting this ridiculous idea?

posted by: robn on December 13, 2011  7:12pm

Welcome to America! have a potato and a stale loaf bread…and don’t forget to vote Tammany!

posted by: Stephen Harris on December 13, 2011  8:02pm

This would seem to require a Constitutional amendment. Article IX of the Amendments to the Connecticut Constitution reads:

“Section 1 of article sixth of the constitution is amended to read as follows: Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, who is a bona fide resident of the town in which he seeks to be admitted as an elector and who takes such oath, if any, as may be prescribed by law, shall be qualified to be an elector.

Only citizens of the United States can be electors in Connecticut. To be a U.S. citizen requires one to be born here or naturalized. The 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution reads, in part:

“1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”.

I think illegal aliens should be given a clear path to citizenship instead of being deported. But a simple law allowing them to vote can’t pass constitutional muster. The Mayor knows that and I suspect he’s just trying to make a point about the accelerating deportations going on under President Obama.

posted by: pkust on December 13, 2011  8:14pm

@Noteworthy:  No one has or could say it better. Bravo.

posted by: Ora on December 13, 2011  8:19pm

It doesn’t much matter to me how you feel about illegals and this whole topic right now. What matters to me in New Haven is that the Janet Dawsons and Michael Steinbachs of the world and the properties they own and properties they are loosing are giving a helping hand to further deteriorate my city. What matters to me is high taxes and my neighbors and residents throughout this city loosing their homes. What matters to me is the blood shed on our streets. What matters to me is the amount of empty buildings and buildings that house criminal activity. What matters to me is that there is no boundaries with this rampant crime and most people in New Haven are effected by crime and are frightened of what is going on in New Haven. What matters to me is a school system constipated with bloated budgets and claims of reform. What matters to me is an administration that is so out of whack with reality that all they can do is care about enhancing their own lives and taking away from the little guy. What matters to me is the incestuous business behavior between the mayor and contractors.
What matters to me is that those 1,500 people responsible for the mayor’s re-election come to their senses next time around. What matters to me is that the mayor is obviously trying to land some sort of job regarding immigration laws and if he does, hopefully it will not be in New Haven.
Thank you for taking the time to read this although it will not do any good with changing this mayor’s private agenda. He is not for the people he is out for himself in every move he makes. Always an underlying agenda that on the surface is portrayed as pure.
Maybe we should lobby this state for allowing recalls.

posted by: GAIL on December 13, 2011  8:22pm


posted by: TC on December 13, 2011  8:35pm

You folks keep electing him mayor.Why are yo complaining? Next election, he won’t need you with illegals voting.

posted by: scammin sid on December 13, 2011  8:42pm

letting immigrants & illegals vote…what does say about the absentee ballots? will they be coming in from all over the world?

posted by: VD on December 13, 2011  9:14pm

Voting rights are the hallmark of citizenship in this country. 

If the mayor wishes to make this his personal crusade, I suggest he truly embrace democracy for those of us who can legally vote by holding a city-wide referendum (paid for by non-city money). 

More rationally, he could stop waving his sword at windmills and tackle the business of the city- namely its empty coffers, rising taxes, and a large, hostile constituency.

posted by: ABJ on December 13, 2011  9:22pm

It’s fine if they cook and clean up after you, it’s fine if they remodel your home, take care of your children.  It’s fine if they start a business and pay taxes.  It’s fine if they speak to you on the street and it’s fine if they have bank accounts and fix up their homes.  It’s fine if they purchase products from your store or teach you some bad words in their native tongues.  Why the hell is it not fine for them to vote for their own mayor? Do you think it is more in keeping with democratic values to have a whole class of people in our city who can do everything but participate in politics?  And I call bull**** on ‘PC’ allegations, the ‘PC’ thing to do is to do nothing.

posted by: Thomas on December 13, 2011  9:42pm

I think the city should allow College Students as well they could have have the general election on primary day. Since New Haven resides in another planet anyway why not have a separate election for the city that won’t effect state and national election. You don’t think the ACLU would charge discrimination if all “Non-Citizen” voters where separated from citizen voters? Would the city need multiple ballots? New Machines? Hm-mm I think we need to hire some consultants

posted by: Just the facts on December 13, 2011  9:47pm

Absolutely awful on all levels.

posted by: Goatville mom on December 13, 2011  9:59pm

@Eric Smith, the process of becoming a legal citizen is a huge part of the problem. The short answer is that for most undocumented people there is no path to legal citizenship. The Immigration Reform Act of 1986, signed by Reagan, allowed a legal path to citizenship to undocumented people. The Act expired. Both Presidents Bush tried to advance comprehensive immigration reform, but failed. And this has not been a priority for Obama. A recent Fox News poll shows that the majority of US voters favor a legal path for undocumented people:

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 13, 2011  10:02pm

I wish to applaud the Mayor for this deliberate form of obfuscation.  While the Mayor’s public goal is to get people to talk more about illegals, his private goal is to figure out ways in which to pad his numbers. 

Does the Mayor support former criminals right to vote as well? They too have something in common with the illegals.

Don’t be fooled by these clandestine tactics. ...

posted by: cityhall on December 13, 2011  10:06pm

New Haven has one and only one “Immigrant” that’s our Mayor, he’s an immigrant to crime, education, taxes and to every single person in this City.  Yes, we’ll let him vote next time around, and no it’s NOT what or when you think.

posted by: RK on December 13, 2011  10:36pm

As someone who is more moderate on the issue and thinks the federal immigration laws are too complex and encourage illegal status, this is absurd.

How convenient for the mayor. He really is a shady politician and an enemy to the American way.

posted by: joe on December 13, 2011  10:37pm

Did the Mayor finally lose all of his marbles? Not only is his suggestion wrong but it’s illegal both under our state laws as well as federal law. I really think he needs to go directly to his buddies at the Yale E.R. and get papered to a psych joint pronto

posted by: Ora on December 13, 2011  11:26pm

Noteworthy, my hat is off to you. Well put.

posted by: Vivian on December 13, 2011  11:29pm

I came here as an immigrant. Yes I am comparatively young, at 28, however, I cannot support anything like this. When I received my “Green Card”, I knew that it would be 5 to 10 YEARS before I’d earn the right to vote. I was exhilarated and understanding that that was the rule. Rules are rules, right ?
Where I come from, an illegal entrant ( the term illegal immigrant would be an oxymoron) would be jailed immediately and held until deported. That’s the rule.
The rule of law is only as good as its enforcement.
Enough of that.
In my view, it is abundantly clear that Mayor DeStefano is merely the mouth-piece for others. He’s the Mayor after all.
Those standing with him, State Representatives of the people of New Haven, are the actual villains in this charade. One is Dillon, the other Lemar.
My suggestion to those who oppose this nonsense is to vote the State Representatives out the next time they are up for election
Stop Hartford from pushing agendas onto cities like ours.
Send a message and make it a strong one.

posted by: To the Alders: on December 14, 2011  12:08am

I would like (and think we all rightly deserve) a statement from every Alder on where they stand on this.  Not a poli-speak dodge, just a “yes, I agree with this” or “no, it is absurd”.  We have the right to know where you stand, and silence would signal a lack of conviction in your beliefs. Or worse, a fear of the Mayor.  We elected all of you, we can “un-elect” you.  Taxpayers who support this city want to know where you stand. We’ll be waiting to hear.

posted by: L on December 14, 2011  12:17am

Congrats on re-electing him, my fellow townspeople.

posted by: Walter Moriarty on December 14, 2011  12:49am

As a life-long, liberal Democrat, born and schooled and worked in New Haven, I must say as loudly as possible that this is the DUMBEST IDEA in the world.

This is that idiotic political correctness run not just amok, but over the cliff.

No one, not even and including Yale, should promote this.



posted by: Edward_H on December 14, 2011  12:56am

I hope this proposal also contains language that will allow illegals to run for Mayor.

posted by: ez on December 14, 2011  6:29am

You jest…..

posted by: Angel on December 14, 2011  6:35am

This cat has completely lost his mind.

posted by: Elizabeth Aiken on December 14, 2011  7:47am

This is an insane proposal.

posted by: Willie on December 14, 2011  8:34am


The country is broke and simply cannot afford to provide services for any large group of people who are not paying taxes on their earnings at the same time they are sending money out of the country.

People need to come to grips with the reality that illegal immigration is very costly to all taxpayers.  There are legal avenues for people from any land to apply to enter the country and those need to be adhered and enforced in all cases.

posted by: john on December 14, 2011  9:34am

Don’t buy this folks…Johnny is gearing up for a new position somewhere. With the last election close and the reval fiasco..Once again he going to use the tax payers of New Haven as his soap box.

posted by: Claudia Bosch on December 14, 2011  9:51am

Wow. Yes, I am a legal resident (cost me more than $ 1,000 in fees! alone).
Yes, I am heavily involved in my neighborhood (just as one example: the fight against the toxic dredging material from Bridgeport), also in the city and my kids’ school. And yes, I am a taxpayer too. 

Thank you! That is how a generally good idea (allowing legal residents to vote on the communal level) was wasted!

Since - are you kidding me!? *Illegal* immigrants should be allowed to vote?
Oh, they are taxpayers - well the folks staying at a hotel during an election are too.
And how do you want to prove their residence?
Welcome to the city of the machine - welcome to Chicago where the dead were voting too.

To all of you DeStefano voters - remember: you voted him back in office. So you are responsible for this! Congratulations.

It is probably time to set up our Kerekes sign again.

posted by: winchesterwendy on December 14, 2011  9:56am

Voting is a privilege given to legal citizens of this country. It is not a right given to anyone who lands here legally or illegaly. Allowing non citizens to vote is just wrong, but is certainly ensures that the Mayor will keep getting elected! I think that is his plan? He gave them ID cards so we the taxpayers “can take care of them.” Who takes care of us?

posted by: Eric Smith on December 14, 2011  10:02am

Thanks for the info Goatville Mom.  I have a lot of sympathy for people who are here illegally and just want to take care of themselves and their families.  At the same time, however, I don’t like the idea of turning a blind eye toward what’s considered illegal.  Rather than spend energy on efforts like these, why not focus on federal legislation that would make the path to US citizenship easier, e. g. establish July as an annual month of amnesty where the path to US citizenship is made easier, including a stringent background check.

posted by: Leonard J. Honeyman on December 14, 2011  10:35am

This is a slap in the face to all those immigrants who stayed up nights (or days) after work studying for the citizen examination. I remember the pride on my grandparents’ faces when they talked about passing the exam and taking the oath as newly minted citizens.
This is so wrong because it makes nothing of their work and sacrifice. People who come here from foreign lands who are used to speaking and writing another language, took the time and made the effort to earn the right to vote. Our mayor is saying they were fools to make the effort.
I am still on the fence about undocumented immigrants, but this is too much.

posted by: Houdini Strikes Again on December 14, 2011  10:46am

Don’t be fooled by the Mayor’s parlor tricks. This proposal is just a means to divert attention from the pain being inflicted by the rere-valrocess underway. John knows the “full voting rights for undocumented aliens” notion will go absolutely NOWHERE. But in the process, we will be so worked up about the insanity of it all, that we forget his hand is in our pockets on the property tax / city budgeting issue now upon us. We don’t have O’Brien to rail against anymore, so John offers himself as the target, knowing that it’s a safe fight for him to risk.

posted by: Bruce on December 14, 2011  10:56am

Interesting proposal and sure to generate some important discourse on who “deserves” to vote.  My immediate thought is that the stronger the democracy, the stronger the community.  Communities that have high immigrant populations will finally have a hand in improving their neighborhoods.  On the other hand, can we really allow foreigners shaping domestic policies?

(I am trying VERY hard not to peak at the un-regulated comments in the Register.  I can only imagine.)

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 14, 2011  11:00am

@Goatville mom @Eric Smith, the process of becoming a legal citizen is a huge part of the problem. The short answer is that for most undocumented people there is no path to legal citizenship.

What is the problem.

Citizenship Through Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

How to Apply for Naturalization
To apply for naturalization, file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

For more information, see our How Do I Apply for Citizenship? guide. We also provide educational materials to help you prepare for the English, U.S. history and civics portions of the naturalization test, including:

Naturalization Self Test
Study for the Naturalization Test
For more test information visit our Naturalization Test page.

If you are in the military and are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, please see the M-599, Naturalization Information for Military guide.

You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, please visit our General Path to Citizenship page for more information.
You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, please visit our For Spouses of U.S. Citizens page for more information.
You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. Visit the Military section of our website.
Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
You may also qualify through other paths to naturalization if you do not qualify through the paths described on the links to the left. See our A Guide to Naturalization guide. Chapter 4 of the guide discusses who is eligible for Naturalization.

Note: You may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if your biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before you reached the age of 18.  For more information, visit our Citizenship Through Parents page.

My inlaws are from the Caribbean Islands and they have been on the list for years.Give me a break.Let them get on the list.

posted by: AvonLady on December 14, 2011  11:06am

There are some really unsettling, dehumanizing words getting thrown around in the comments: the Mayor is “an enemy to the American way;” Reps. Dillon and Lemar are “villains.”  Despite all the hyperventilating, the article makes plain that the Mayor intends to lobby the Capitol for legislation that would allow for some non-citizen voting in local elections, not that he has declared by fiat that all residents can vote.  The standard democratic channels are still very much in play here.  Either way, let’s try to tone down the language a little bit.

Second, “illegal” is an adjective, not a noun.  Whatever your feelings on this issue, try to remember that the “illegals” you’re talking about are human beings who live shoulder to shoulder with us in this city every day.  To say nothing of the fact that what is being proposed would affect a large number of legal residents who are currently unable to vote, such as the English couple quoted in the article.

Lastly, @cedarhillresident, you wrote, “How can someone vote in a country if they do not have the knowledge of how it is ran. And what their rights are as citizens.”  I would respectfully note that the same could be said of vast, vast portions of our electorate who do not have a solid grasp of how our government works.  That is not to say that I don’t agree with much of what you wrote.  Frankly, I don’t know that I could support something along these lines, either.  At the very least, I imagine it would create an incredibly complicated system that would require sorting out citizen vs. non-citizen voters for local vs. state and federal elections.

It would be really interesting to have more of an update on those Maryland communities where non-residents can vote.  The linked website provides some detail, but I wonder if the opinions of the citizens there have changed, since the law was enacted almost 20 years ago.

posted by: Darryl Brackeen Jr on December 14, 2011  11:37am

With all due respect Mayor Destefano I do not agree that undocumented residents should be able to vote in local elections. I actually like most things that has been done to help undocumented residents in New Haven (New Haven promise for instance)to help them in their times of transitions toward legal citizenship, but the vote is sacred to Americans who fought and died for it. Sacred for those who went through the legalization process. Yes, its good politics, but its simply unconstitutional

posted by: Stephen on December 14, 2011  11:41am

What about illegal is confusing! Just a way to get votes, disgusting.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 14, 2011  11:45am

John DeStefano should have run on this issue during the campaign.

posted by: Claudia Bosch on December 14, 2011  12:40pm

@ AvonLady

Having non-citizens but legal, registered residents voting on the communal level is status quo within the countries of the European Union. So if you are an Italian with 1st residency in Stuttgart, Germany you can vote and be elected (active and passive voting rights) as alderperson of a German city (and of course all EU-citizens can vote in elections for the EU-parliament).

How do they do this? Well by having tight residency laws and registration requirements (ever heard about identification cards?). A gas or water bill is not enough to prove anything.

Illegal immigrants as well as non-EU-residents (Swiss or American folks eg) do NOT have the right to vote on the communal level. That makes sense. The one group cannot prove legal residency, while the other group’s home countries do not grant the right of voting to EU-citizens either (nor are they part of the EU).

I welcome a discussion about voting rights. But please - there are differences between legal and illegal immigrants. As a legal alien I do NOT want to be grouped into the illegal group. Do the immigration laws of the USA need to be reformed? Sure. But that is a different issue than voting rights.

DeStefano clearly does not care about extending voting rights for folks like me. Otherwise his proposal would have been within certain limits - showing common sense. With wasting taxpayers’ dollars on making a proposal which includes illegals DeStefano does not mind failure at all. So he is indeed diverting our focus away from the tax reassessments while securing support within communities closely connected with illegal residents.

posted by: Amy Meek on December 14, 2011  12:50pm

@ Brian L. Jenkins:

In fact, “former criminals” do have the right to vote everywhere in Connecticut (including federal, state, and local elections). Per state law, individuals who have been convicted of a felony can restore their right to vote as long as they have been released from incarceration and have completed parole. Even individuals who are still on probation can vote in Connecticut. (See if you’re looking for more details).

posted by: JAK on December 14, 2011  12:57pm

This is probably a good time to bring up an awkward confession.

I’m going to be a little short on paying my property taxes this year.  I know its against the law not to pay them but I am a human being with dignity and self-worth.  I have a family, and I am your neighbor.  I even have a New Haven ID card. 

Please don’t ostracize me by initiating legal proceedings.  I am just here working for a better life for me and my family.  I would very much like to buy my children some of toys for Christmas but I can’t pay my high taxes AND purchase toys.  My children deserve to know that someone loves them - and I am not willing to sacrifice the happiness of my children.

Thank you for understanding that I am just doing my best to survive.  I am thankful that this is such a tolerant city.

posted by: Curious on December 14, 2011  1:07pm

JAK, I appreciate your point very well.

However, if you don’t belong to a community of people that claims this is racism, no one is going to have your back.

posted by: AvonLady on December 14, 2011  1:20pm

@Claudia Bosch:

Thanks for the information on voting in the EU.  I actually hadn’t considered that before, but of course that makes sense to allow registered residents to vote in local elections even if their home country is in the EU.  Obviously, the situation at hand is completely different.

I’m well aware that there are differences between legal and illegal immigrants.  I just wanted to point out that what the Mayor is discussing would cover a broader range of people than what the NHI commenters are focused on.  Again, I don’t actually support this measure, but wanted to try to inject a modicum of reason into the conversation.

Let’s also be realistic.  There is almost no way that this would ever come to pass, so all the rhetoric about “prostituting Democracy” (not your words, but others’) is a bit over the top.  To be fair, the only people who are diverting focus away from the tax reassessments are the 50 or so commenters on this article, who could continue to keep the pressure on City Hall about property taxes, but instead opt to froth with anger about the fact that their post-doc neighbor from England might be able to vote for mayor in 2013.

As a legal alien, what are your thoughts on not having the right to vote locally?  I would love to hear your perspective on it, as you’re somewhat uniquely positioned to comment on it from a personal angle.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 14, 2011  1:33pm

ha why not just go back to this kind of election day?

posted by: Claudia Bosch on December 14, 2011  1:47pm

What is my view on not being allowed to vote?

1. that is the way it is. (So the right to vote as a non-citizen would be surprising).

2. I could go for citizenship.

3. Even without being a citizen one can participate in the political processes here (participation is so much more than voting).
Yes - everybody is even encouraged to do so!
Americans do not mind outspokenness and are tolerant to even accented opinions (pun intended). So my voice gets heard, while my legal standing is never questioned. (At that point here: thank you Americans to be so open!!! ).

And now: what about these taxes .....
(and how many hours did someone work on this proposal instead on proper budgeting)

posted by: Ex-local on December 14, 2011  1:50pm

Sold the house in East Rock to an out-of-towner (one of the last Yale faculty hires) last year. Just in time for the property tax increase and now this crap. I feel sorry for the buyers, but not nearly enough to move back…lol.

posted by: outta work on December 14, 2011  1:58pm

wow a couple of years back jonny said the cards for these people were not to vote but have bank acc. fools johnny onlycares for himself in a city with 70,000 voters and only 9800. come out vote this is what we get
He needs more voters on his side And not to mention what he did to the poor custodians cutting their employees by athird totaly devestating families thanks NH

posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011  2:26pm

@Threefifths: here is the problem: the first two points under “You May Qualify for Naturalization if:”  (the points which fit most people, who are not military personnel or children) start with “You have been a permanent resident”. That means a green card, which means documented entry into the US. If you enter the US undocumented, those do not apply to you. I stand by my statement.

@ Willie: many undocumented people do in fact pay taxes and social security, too. As for legal entry into the US, for people from some countries, this is difficult to nearly impossible.

@joe, it is clearly not in violation of federal law, if other municipalities are doing it already.

@JAK, if you own property, you are already doing much better than some people who come here with nothing.

I personally am not in favor of this proposal to allow non citizens, documented or undocumented, to vote. But it would be nice if arguments against it could be based in fact and civil.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 14, 2011  2:45pm

Hey love this line in the story….
The other part of the argument is that from the beginning of U.S. history until the 1920s, non-citizen voting was very common,

did we leave out the part…it was white men with property were permitted to vote non citizens? And that women and people of color were not allow during this period of time???? Just saying! Ya forgot that part didn’t ya!

posted by: jwh on December 14, 2011  3:38pm

This guy is totally out of control.This is just another sham for DeStefano to get a larger voter base. The last election really scared him.He’ll do anything to get national attention anddraw away from the fact that he has let this city deteriorate. you can see the future arguements, if illegals can vote why not run for elective office? If illegals can vote in local elections ehy not state elections? Why not federal? DeStefano thinks that as a Mayor he can decide what laws his police will follow. If DeStefano chooses what Federal laws to follow the federal government should pull all federal funding, remove the FBI, DEA and other fedral law enforcement agencies from the city. This guy is despicable Remember when he wanted the Mall on Long Wharf and he said there wasn’t any traffic problems at I95 and I91

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 14, 2011  4:05pm

@posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011 1:26pm
@Threefifths: here is the problem: the first two points under “You May Qualify for Naturalization if:”  (the points which fit most people, who are not military personnel or children) start with “You have been a permanent resident”. That means a green card, which means documented entry into the US. If you enter the US undocumented, those do not apply to you. I stand by my statement.

And they can apply for the green card like every one else.Also have a sponsor file on there behalf like my inlaws did.

There are many different ways to get a green card (permanent residence). Each category will have specific steps and procedures to follow. Below are some general processes and procedures to help you apply to get a green card either while in the United States (known as “adjustment of status”) or while outside the United States (known as “consular processing”). See the links to the left under “Green Card Processes & Procedures” to learn more about each topic.

Green Card Eligibility

Determine if you are eligible for permanent residence. Review the eligibility requirements needed before applying for your green card.

Adjustment of Status

Adjusting your status to a permanent resident is the process used by immigrants to get a green card while in the United States. Find out more about the process.

Consular Processing

Consular processing is the method immigrants use to get their green card when outside the United States or when ineligible to adjust status in the United States. Find out more about the process.

Concurrent Filing

When getting a green card through employment, family or as a special immigrant, you may need to have a petition filed for you.  Concurrent filing is generally when the immigrant petition is filed at the same time you file your application to get a green card. Learn what concurrent filing is and what categories are eligible to concurrently file.

Visa Availability & Priority Dates

In general, there must be a visa available for you before you can apply for a green card. In some categories, visas are always available, while in others, there are a limited number. Priority dates are given to immigrants waiting in line to get an immigrant visa and determine when a visa becomes available.  Find out how to tell if a visa is available to you.   

Travel Documents

Learn more about if and when you can travel outside the United States after applying for a green card or once you have a green card. You can also learn how to apply for advance parole, a refugee travel document, and a re-entry permit.

Work Authorization

Learn more about if you are eligible for work authorization in the United States and how to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Immigration Medical Examinations

Most applications for a green card require that you go through a medical exam. Learn about who must complete a medical exam and the specific forms and procedures that you must follow when getting a medical exam.

Affidavit of Support

An affidavit of support is a form that a sponsor files on your behalf when you are applying for a green card or immigrant visa. It is required for most but not all categories of immigrants before they can become a permanent resident of the United States. The purpose of the form is to show that you have the financial means to live in the United States without needing welfare or financial benefits from the U.S. government. Determine if you need an Affidavit of Support.

Public Charge

A public charge is when a person relies on money from the U.S. government to support themselves. Most immigrants must show that they will not become a public charge in order to get a green card. Learn more about public charge.

Child Status Protection Act

Your age can determine whether you are eligible for a green card as a “child.” The Child Status Protection Act, often referred to as CSPA, allows certain children who have aged out (become 21 years or older) after an immigrant petition has been filed to still be eligible for a green card through their parents. Learn more about the Child Status Protection

posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011  4:30pm

@threefifths—try applying for a green card from inside the US when you are undocumented or talk to someone who has.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 14, 2011  4:37pm

Chicago allows non-citizens to vote in school board elections.

I would have no issue with allowing them to vote in school board elections. If there kids are enrolled in our system they should have the right to say who spends the money and how the schools are ran….....wait we do not have and elected school board do we?

posted by: Rich on December 14, 2011  4:48pm

Even my liberal friend Ron thinks this is the most idiotic thing he ever heard. This should be an impeachable offense if there ever was one. I wonder why he didn’t think of this before the last election? But when your base is leaving in droves, where else are you going to find voters? By the number of negative responses to this article, the mayor’s brain trust ought to ask him to reconsider this lame idea. New Haven has become a laughing stock.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 14, 2011  5:04pm

posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011 3:30pm
@threefifths—try applying for a green card from inside the US when you are undocumented or talk to someone who has

I have talk to people.My inlaws.They did not come into the country undocumented.They follow the law that is on the books now.How about those on work visa. For me I want to know can I sue the city of New Haven for my car.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 14, 2011  5:10pm

This is all a big distraction from the mess that is reveal and the upcoming DeStefano assault on taxpayers in the budget. This is the smoke screen. Grab your children and your wallet.

posted by: Just say NO on December 14, 2011  5:46pm

Destefano just wants to build on his liberal base since he had a close call last time around during election time.

New Haven will always be known as Sanctuary City as long as King Destefano and his liberal cronies have the power.

posted by: Walter Moriarty on December 14, 2011  6:24pm

All the arguments about women, minority, prisoners, etc., voting or not voting or are/are not part humans, part residents, etc., are irrelevant.
No matter how compelling any parallel argument regarding voting rights is for those I just mentioned, that parallel argument is NOT about illegal aliens voting in public elections. Period.

Wanna vote?

Join the country. Period.

posted by: Stupid Is, As Stupid Does .... on December 14, 2011  7:09pm

A policy shift of this importance should have been disclosed by the Mayor in the just-finished election process. But I guess this is just another example of the DeStefano administration’s “transparency”. I think any legislator that enables John in this process needs to consider that they may be taking on more of John’s water than they really want, or need to carry. To Dillon, Lemar, Candelaria: let this ill-conceived notion die a merciful death.

posted by: Reval Distraction on December 14, 2011  7:19pm

Noteworthy and Houdini Strikes Again, you hit the nail right on the head.

posted by: hookermom on December 14, 2011  7:36pm

As a first generation US citizen born here in the US of immigrant parents who went through all the legal channels to get green cards and come here LEGALLY, I am appalled by the mayor’s suggestion that undocumented and documented non-citizens be given the right to vote in New Haven. I think he’s finally gone too far. As the Governor said in his comment, citizenship comes with certain responsibilities and privileges. The processes of becoming a documented non-citizen resident and the a citizen may be long and arduous, but they are well worth it for the right and the privilege of participating in our great democracy.  I say no votes for the non-citizens and my very proud immigrant parents, if they were still alive, would wholeheartedly agree!

posted by: Eric on December 14, 2011  9:02pm

If I lived in New Haven I’d be looking to impeach the Mayor.

posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011  9:21pm

@threefifths, my original statement was: “The short answer is that for most undocumented people there is no path to legal citizenship.”
So the experience of your in-laws, since you claim they were documented, is irrelevant to my statement.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 14, 2011  9:46pm

posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011 8:21pm
@threefifths, my original statement was: “The short answer is that for most undocumented people there is no path to legal citizenship.”

And the short answer is that they choose to come here undocumented. My Inlaws didn’t.Show me why does a person have to come to this country undocumented.

posted by: Yimski on December 14, 2011  11:10pm

My first reaction was dismay (DeStefano must have had even more of that good Woodchuck Cider after the Christopher Martin’s 5 K race on Sunday than I did).  But, then, cursory research reveals no explicit, constitutional requirement for full citizenship to vote in state or local elections.  It is a matter for the states, apparently; many of which let non-citizens vote until well into the 20th century.  Well, you learn something new every day.

posted by: The Professor on December 14, 2011  11:15pm

The short answer to “why does a person have to come here without documents,” threefifths, is that it’s incredibly, incredibly difficult to get a work visa.  Check out the requirements for yourself:  This would be a daunting and expensive task for even someone who has internet access and some resources.  It’s ludicrous to expect that someone who’s barely literate, impoverished, and just wants to pick produce or wash dishes in exchange for money will be able to navigate that process.

posted by: Goatville mom on December 14, 2011  11:52pm

@threefifths, for one reason, for many people, the expense of coming here legally makes it impossible. I’ll give you one example from a case I know: $404 for a visa from Guatemala, a country where the average gross income is $2630 per year. Even if you can come up with that, try dealing with the bureaucracy. It can take years. In the meantime, your kids are starving (half of the kids in Guatemala are starving). What would you do if your kids were starving? Most people would do just about anything.
And I won’t even get into the reasons why the situation in Guatemala is so bad (hint: CIA).
...  (btw, have you seen your in-laws papers? Many folks making this argument ASSUME their family came here legally). But the reality is , the issue of immigration—documented and undocumented—is much more complicated.

posted by: Edward_H on December 15, 2011  12:33am

While Johnny D is at it he should let out of town property owners, union members and anyone else who works in town but live elsewhere vote as well.

posted by: Stephen Harris on December 15, 2011  8:31am

@ Yimski

From my comment above:

This would seem to require a Constitutional amendment. Article IX of the Amendments to the Connecticut Constitution reads:

“Section 1 of article sixth of the constitution is amended to read as follows: Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, who is a bona fide resident of the town in which he seeks to be admitted as an elector and who takes such oath, if any, as may be prescribed by law, shall be qualified to be an elector.

Only citizens of the United States can be electors in Connecticut. To be a U.S. citizen requires one to be born here or naturalized. The 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution reads, in part:

“1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”.

In Connecticut one needs to be a citizen to vote.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 15, 2011  8:56am

@The Professor

Check this out.

Working in the US

The United States welcomes thousands of foreign workers in multiple occupations or employment categories every year. These include artists, researchers, cultural exchange participants, information technology specialists, religious workers, investors, scientists, athletes, nurses, agricultural workers and others. All foreign workers must obtain permission to work legally in the United States. Each employment category for admission has different requirements, conditions and authorized periods of stay. It is important that you adhere to the terms of your application or petition for admission and visa. Any violation can result in removal or denial of re-entry into the United States.

Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Worker
A temporary worker is an individual seeking to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrants enter the United States for a temporary period of time, and once in the United States, are restricted to the activity or reason for which their nonimmigrant visa was issued.

Permanent (Immigrant) Worker
A permanent worker is an individual who is authorized to live and work permanently in the United States.

Students and Exchange Visitors
Students and exchange visitors may, under certain circumstances, be allowed to work in the United States. They must obtain permission from an authorized official at their school. The authorized official is known as a Designed School Official (DSO) for students and the Responsible Officer (RO) for exchange visitors.

Information for Employers & Employees
Employers must verify that an individual whom they plan to employ or continue to employ in the United States is authorized to accept employment in the United States. Individuals, such as those who have been admitted as permanent residents, granted asylum or refugee status, or admitted in work-related nonimmigrant classifications, may have employment authorization as a direct result of their immigration status. Other aliens may need to apply individually for employment authorization.

Temporary Visitors For Business
To visit the United States for business purposes you will need to obtain a visa as a temporary visitor for business (B-1 visa), unless you qualify for admission without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. For more information on the topics above, select the category related to your situation to the left.

Green Card Through the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act

posted by: Roger on December 15, 2011  1:40pm

Well, if they do vote, we know who they will vote for…... corruption at its finest.

posted by: john on December 15, 2011  2:22pm

careful Lamar…didnt your district just get changed?  Your new constituency will not stand for this nonsense.  If you continue to stand next to the Mayor and preach this rubbish, you will be voted out of office.

posted by: Rudy on December 16, 2011  7:52pm

There are legal and illegal taxpayers, legal and illegal residents. By my standards the Mayor has not made illegal immigrants legal using his ID gimmick. Government’s love of money appears to legitimize things that aren’t legitimate such as illegal immigrants.

posted by: Westville Dad on December 17, 2011  9:34am

Please remember that the work most of you on this blog did to become citizens was done by your mother when you were born. Those of you us who were born into citizenship have very little idea about the level of privilege we enjoy. I’m just saying.

posted by: Rudy on December 17, 2011  1:16pm

Illegal immigrants and non-citizens cannot and do not serve on a jury. Citizens perform the responsibility of jury duty. Our legal system however will likely have to and already does deal with illegal immigrants domestic issues that call for legal address. If they could serve jury duty we would find ourselves being legally judged by a person who was found immune from being judged by that same legal system.

posted by: Rudy on December 18, 2011  7:28am

On ‘we are all immigrants’: I didn’t come here. I am like a lot of citizens of other countries who were born in the place they call their country. So for argument you might as well try using we all live on Earth, we’re all human, we all breath the same atmosphere etc.? Would that shoot down any attempt to try to implement law about coming in to America whenever someone wants to and for whatever reason? I’m just saying.

posted by: schneur on December 19, 2011  1:55pm

Could the mayor explain to me what a citizen is if a non citizen can vote. Perhaps in the next election I will run Vladmir Putin and import a few thousand Russians to vote for him.Welcome Mayor Putin !
This is really nonsense.

posted by: Eric on December 19, 2011  6:44pm

Mayor Putin might get the crime down so why don’t we do that