The Coalition was formed in 2001 in response to growing discrimination against immigrants in this country. Its purpose was to heighten the vital role that immigrants play in our communities and to rectify the lack of democratic voice experienced by the 1 million legally-residing adults in New York City who are our neighbors in every sense but have no say in how their taxes are spent and how their communities are run. The Coalition is comprised of immigrant-rights organizations, groups promoting broader democratic participation, and representatives from universities, unions, social service non-profits, and small political parties.
Coalition members helped write legislation granting voting rights in city elections (for mayor, controller, city council, and borough presidents) to non-citizens who have been legally residing in NYC for at least 6 months. The bill was introduced in the Council in 2005, but did not garner enough support to be brought to a hearing. In 2009, term-limits produced a large turnover in the composition of the Council, and the Coalition saw an opportunity to re-introduce the legislation. A slightly revised piece of legislation was introduced, with Coalition support, in November 2010 by the Chair of the Immigration Committee, Danny Dromm, as the “Voting Restoration Act [Intro 410].” Thirty-one council members signed on to the legislation and a public hearing was held in May 2013, co-chaired by the Government Operations and Immigrations Committees; the bill, however, was not voted on by the Government Operations Committee before the end of the 2013 term.
The Coalition continues to work to gather support from members the new City Council in anticipation of the bill’s re-introduction. We also work towards increasing public awareness and community education around the issue of non-citizen voting rights.