MEDA's Lucia Obregon City Hall Speech: It is Now Legal for Non-Citizens to Vote in San Francisco School Board Elections

Good morning. My name is Lucia Obregon. I am honored to be here to speak on behalf of Mission Economic Development Agency, also known as MEDA. Since 1973, MEDA has worked tirelessly to strengthen low- and moderate-income Latino families by promoting economic equity and social justice through asset building and community development.

We are deeply invested in our community and the success of Non-Citizen Voting in our School Board elections.

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since this initiative was first introduced. Prop N, which is now known as Non-Citizen Voting Rights, has been a historic triumph for immigrants not just in this city, but for immigrants in this country.

In 2016, I was witness to what was a community-driven ballot initiative that was guided by the belief that non-citizens parents — who make up one-third of our school district — should be included and integrated into the social and political fabric of San Francisco.

MEDA believes that for San Francisco to keep thriving and to continue to be an inclusive city, the residents of our city need to be decisions-makers in the institutions and political systems that affect their lives. (Read of Result 4 of MEDA’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020.)

This new law is a direct line for immigrant parents to advocate for their children’s education. Having the ability to vote in School Board elections makes it so we are one step closer to achieving a more equitable education for the children of San Francisco.

As an immigrant myself, I understand fear and the risk that may come along. In a political environment that is guided by fear, I come here to remind you that an empowered community is not a fearful community. This is not the time to fear, but to be bold and to claim our right to vote.

This is an opportunity to send a larger message to  everyone, far and wide, that immigrants are fearless, resilient and add vitality to our social fabric.

Immigrants don’t threaten democracy. In fact, excluding immigrants from democracy is a much greater threat to all that we hold dear as a country — a country built with the blood and sweat of immigrants.

This is why what is happening here today is monumental. We are ensuring that all parents have a chance to choose the people who make decisions about the education of their children in our public schools. This is democracy.

The Non-Citizen Voting Rights Collaborative comprises organizations that focus on equitable education and immigrant rights; this group is committed to work alongside the Department of Elections to carry out culturally relevant and language-accessible education and community outreach.

We are here to support the implementation efforts to ensure that every community in San Francisco has access to information that helps them make an informed decision when it is time to register and vote.

I would like to thank the rest of the members of the collaborative: African Advocacy Network, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Central American Resource Center, Chinese Affirmative Action, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, La Raza Community Resource Center and Mission Graduates.

Together, we will work to ensure that our communities are fully informed of their new rights and are ready to participate.

I invite parents to come visit our organizations, to meet with us when we reach out to you in your community and to get informed on how to register and vote for School Board elections.

We have more to gain than to lose! 

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