Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections Law Implementation: Testimony by Community Leadership Development Manager Lucia Obregon

On May 9, Community Leadership Development Manager Lucia Obregon testified on behalf of MEDA at a meeting led by the Rules Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The subject was the implementation of the city’s Non-Citizen Voting law, formerly known as Prop N. That measure, spearheaded by MEDA, was passed by San Francisco voters in November 2016.

At the hearing, Obregon stressed the importance of seamless integration of this law so that the one-third of San Francisco Unified School District families who are non-citizens can have a say in their child’s education. This is pivotal to the inclusion and integration of immigrants into the social and political fabric of San Francisco.

Here are the main points of Obregon’s important testimony:

  • This law is a direct line for immigrant parents to advocate for their children’s education. The City must be accountable to these parents, and the voters who supported this initiative.
  • In a political environment that is guided by fear, it should be remembered that an empowered community is not a fearful community. This is not the time to fear, but to be bold. Our immigrant community needs to know that San Francisco continues to believe in their inclusion, as a means to maintain the vitality of our democracy.
  • Non-citizen voting is already law. The ordinance provides implementation guidance for the Department of Elections, given the sensitive political climate for immigrants.
  • The Department of Elections must pay close attention to language access, immigrants’ rights protections and community education in order to implement non-citizen voting this November, especially given the current federal vitriol aimed at immigrant communities. The ordinance makes implementation safer for impacted communities.
  • Non-citizen communities are invested in a successful implementation of non-citizen voting this November.
  • Prop N is a civil right for non-citizens in San Francisco — guaranteed by popular vote — and we hope to be accountable to voters who supported the initiative. The ordinance will address the current political climate through language and cultural accessibility on eligibility requirements, reiterate sanctuary protections, while ensuring an open and transparent elections in compliance with federal law.
  • San Francisco can build upon its track record as a leader in civil rights, and community-based organizations can coordinate know-your-rights education outreach.
  • The Prop N collaborative represents community-based organizations with strong track records at the intersection of immigrant rights and education equity, and have historically fought for civil rights protections for vulnerable communities in San Francisco. We have advised the implementation of non-citizen voting and have provided important community and legal expertise to address various policy gaps in the existing charter.

Today’s outcome? The Rules Committee voted unanimously to send the matter to the full Board of Supervisors. That’s great news.

MEDA will keep the community informed on progress of the implementation of the Non-Citizen Voting law.

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