Lines continue to blur between citizens and non-citizens – The Ukiah Daily Journal

The lines between American citizens and immigrants who live here, legally or not, have become more blurred.

Accordingly, it is logical to ask whether there is much incentive left for non-citizens to bother and spend to improve their status.

For those who want all immigrants to enjoy full citizenship rights, the start of this year has been a record time.

In the first week of the year, just after Eric Adams was sworn in and became New York’s new mayor, he approved a local measure allowing noncitizens to vote in all New York elections. .

Adams opposed this change on his campaign trail and did not sign it into law, but instead let it take effect automatically when he refused to veto it.

Days later, California Governor Gavin Newsom took a big step toward establishing government-paid health care as a right for everyone living in California, regardless of immigration or economic status. . He did this by including more than $2 billion in his new state budget proposal to expand the state’s Medi-Cal health insurance system for the poor to cover undocumented immigrants aged 26 to 50 years old. Medi-Cal previously covered all other low-income people living in that state. Newsom’s decision would help about 700,000 currently uninsured people.

Medi-Cal covers about one-third of all Californians, with the rest having to purchase other types of health insurance or risk not receiving needed treatment.

Newsom sees his latest proposal as a step toward single-payer health insurance, where everyone in California would be covered by a state plan roughly equivalent to federal health insurance.

It’s all part of a trend that began about 20 years ago, when Chicago and a few cities in Maryland began letting noncitizens vote.

The rationale has always been that non-citizens, regardless of their legal immigration status, are part of the fabric of the communities where they live.

As Adams said on the day of his inauguration, “I believe that all New Yorkers should have a say in their government…I look forward to bringing millions more into the democratic process. “

California has been in this movement for 10 years. During nearly every session of the Legislative Assembly during this period, Democratic lawmakers introduced bills allowing non-citizens to vote in all local elections.

These proposals were not adopted. But school boards in San Francisco and Los Angeles picked up the idea, and it was actually passed as Proposition N of the San Francisco Local Ballot in 2016. The measure allows non-citizen parents of students in the local school district to vote in school board elections. , but not others.

So far, no noncitizens have been allowed to vote in presidential or other federal and state elections since 1926, when Arkansas became the last state to ban the practice amid a wave of anti- immigrants.

For noncitizens to start voting in Los Angeles — where the school board proposed the idea three years ago — or any other city in California, a local ballot measure must be passed. So far, none have appeared outside of San Francisco, in part due to concerns about the coronavirus and efforts to keep schools open even as it rages.

A positive motive behind the California moves seems simple: funders believe that involving more parents in decisions about their children’s schools could improve student performance. Of course, improvements are needed, especially after standardized test results during the 2020-21 academic year dominated by distance learning through Zoom and other distance learning programs.

But officials and voters should seriously think about all of this. For widespread noncitizen voting would remove one more distinction between citizens and noncitizens, eliminating yet another ground for obtaining citizenship, just seven years after illegal immigrants became eligible for California driver’s licenses.

And anything that removes the incentive to apply for citizenship ultimately hinders both immigrant assimilation and progression, because citizenship remains necessary for many jobs and advancement in American society.

Email Thomas Elias at [email protected] His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a softcover fourth edition. For more Elias columns visit www.californiafocus.net

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