Friday, July 23, 2004

Noncitizen, Nonvoter, Not for Long

Well, I guess since I've already come out against letting minors vote, I suppose the only way to give school kids power in their districts is if their parents vote. But this might not be the best way to do it.

San Francisco is considering a measure that would allow noncitizens to vote in local school board races.

Reaction is predictably mixed.

"I studied the books. I took the tests. I became a citizen," he said. "If you don't want to be part of America, but suddenly you want to vote, that's not fair." - from one 47 year old Chinese immigrant.

Noncitizen parents deserve more say in the public education system because they make up a growing population of the city's schools, said state Assemblyman Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). Yee has offered to draft a constitutional amendment if voters pass the initiative in November.

But, rining in on a more reasonable note is Supervisor Fiona Ma:

Fiona Ma, a city supervisor, disagrees with the notion that parents who are not citizens need to vote to become more involved in their children's education. And, she said, giving noncitizens the vote would have other implications. The only Chinese member of the supervisors board, Ma opposes the measure.

"If we pass this thing, we will open up a Pandora's box," she said. "Yes, there are many immigrants in the school system, but voting is an honor, a privilege."

I'm with her - except on that last part about voting being a privilege. It is an honor, but it's also a right. Period. Driving is a privilege, not a right, remember? But it's a right for citizens of this country. That's all you have to do to get the right - become a citizen (voter disenfranchisment notwithstanding).

This proposal will inspire much passionate debate, I'm sure . . . .

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