Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill this week to stop non-citizens from voting in local elections in Washington, D.C.
The legislation comes in response to a newly passed law in the nation’s capital that gives non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, the right to vote in municipal races.
“Allowing non-citizens, including aliens occupying our nation illegally, to exercise a right reserved for American citizens not only violates the constitutional principles our nation was founded upon, but also naively invites foreign meddling in our elections,” Cruz said in a press release.
“Voting is a privilege and the tool by which American citizens exercise their say in who leads our country, how we spend our tax dollars, and what policies should be instituted. I am vehemently against unconstitutionally cheapening the votes of American citizens and ignoring the rule of law in this nation,” he added.
Cruz’s bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), J.D. Vance (R-OH) and Rick Scott (R-FL).
This legislation is being led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).
The Washington, D.C., City Council voted in October to pass the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022 in a 12-1 vote. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed the bill to pass without her signature, as she refused to veto the legislation.
The U.S. Congress has legislative authority over the District of Columbia. The city council transmitted the bill to Congress on January 11, with the House Oversight Committee seeking to block it the next day.
“The D.C. Council’s reckless decision to allow non-U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants the right to vote in local elections is an attack on the foundation of this republic,” said Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) in a statement. “This move by the Council is irresponsible and will only exacerbate the ongoing border crisis, subvert the voices of American citizens, and open the door for foreign adversaries to peddle influence in our nation’s capital.”
The bill would permit non-citizen residents in the District of Columbia to vote in local elections deciding the mayor, attorney general, and school board members. The residency requirement is only 30 days for non-citizens.
R.J. Hauman, head of government relations and communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), blasted the move by the D.C. City Council.
“The right to vote is at the very core of the principle of self-determination and what it means to be a citizen,” Hauman wrote in the press release from Cruz’s office. “The actions of the D.C. city government are the next and most damaging steps in an ongoing effort to erase any distinction between American citizens and noncitizens.”
Fellow GOP Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) also introduced a resolution in Congress in December to block the non-citizen voting law from taking effect, calling it an “insane policy.”
The District of Columbia is not the only place to attempt to allow non-citizens the right to vote.
A similar law in New York City proposed to permit up to 800,000 non-citizens to vote in city elections. The law was struck down by the state’s Supreme Court in June.
San Francisco also passed a city ordinance allowing non-citizens to vote in school board elections. The policy was struck down in August and did not move forward.
In Vermont, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that non-citizens may continue to vote in city elections in the capital of Montpelier based on a 2021 law.
In addition to select American cities, at least one state has moved ahead with an effort to offer non-citizen voting statewide. Connecticut state Democratic Rep. Juan Candelaria introduced a bill this week to allow undocumented immigrants considered residents in the state to vote in city and state elections.