Pro-immigrant rally held Tuesday outside Supreme Court as suit aims to block new voting rights


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.— As it stands, 800,000 New York City residents who are not U.S. citizens, but authorized to live and work in the U.S., will be allowed to vote in next year’s municipal elections.

On Tuesday, proceedings surrounding a lawsuit filed by New York Republicans aimed at blocking that from happening began in Supreme court, St. George.

At the same time, in front of the courthouse, immigration rights activists, politicians and DACA recipients gathered to protest the lawsuit.

“[The city] doesn’t ask us our immigration status anytime there is a crisis and we need to step up as New Yorkers,” shouted community activist and attorney Hina Naveed, who also worked as a front-line registered nurse during the pandemic. “So, New York City should not hold our citizenship status as a barrier to our voices and our votes counting at the polls.”

Naveed’s family moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago so her older sister could receive medical treatment, then overstayed their visa to continue the medical treatment, which ultimately saved her sister’s life, Gothamist reported.

The law passed in December by the City Council, formerly referred to as the Our City Our Vote law, would allow Naveed and any residents who have lived in the city for more than 30 days and are authorized to live and work here to register to vote in local elections. Additionally, DACA recipients, who came to the United States when they were children and now are protected from deportation through federal law, would be permitted to vote


In January, Staten Island’s Republican elected officials were among the local lawmakers who filed a lawsuit opposing the city’s non-citizen voting bill.

The litigation brought against Mayor Eric Adams, the New York City Board of Elections (BOE), and the New York City Council challenges the bill based on the state’s constitution, election law and municipal home rule law that contradicts the bill that became law Saturday.

Plaintiffs named in the complaint include Borough President Vito Fossella, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/South Brooklyn), Staten Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore), Assemblyman Mike Reilly (R-South Shore), Assemblyman Mike Tannousis (R-East Shore/South Brooklyn), City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-South Shore), and City Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island).

Non-citizen voting pressers Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli joined City Councilman David Carr (tan jacket), New York Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy (blue suit) and other supporters for press conference on the steps of City Hall in December in regard to the “our city our vote” law. (Staten Island Advance)

“Anyone reading New York state election law in plain English can see that it prohibits foreign citizen voting,” Borelli said in January. “The public should look for themselves at section 5-102 to fully grasp how their city government willfully violates the law without regard.”

Part of the election law reads that “(no) person shall be qualified to register for and vote at any election unless he is a citizen of the United States.”

Former Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore), along with other members of the Council, said previously that they hoped the current Council would work to address concerns also noted at one point by Mayor Eric Adams — in regard to the brevity of the 30 day residency requirement and its impact on the city’s African-American community.

Adams has reportedly since put his full support behind the law, issuing a statement recently that in part explained that members of his administration have eased his concerns.

The bill initially was introduced to City Council by former Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), who is now city Department of Transportation commissioner.

The lawsuit in Richmond County Supreme Court also argues that the city’s new law would change how the plaintiffs, primarily Republicans, campaign for office and could hurt their ability to win elections in the future.

The case in Supreme Court is being heard by Justice Ralph J. Porzio, who heard oral arguments for more than two hours on Tuesday. A decision is expected at the end of the month.


The rally Tuesday was organized by La Colmena, a community-based organization founded in 2016 that “works to empower day laborers, domestic workers, and other low-wage immigrant workers on Staten Island through organizing education, culture and economic development,” according to the group’s website.

Said Yesenia Mata, executive director of La Colmena: “We won’t let the extreme right derail New York City’s bold commitment to democracy. That is why today La Colmena is taking the fight to the courtroom.”

Among the crowd were DACA recipients who are living and working on Staten Island.

“We do the day-by-day work for our community,” said 23-year-old Emili Prado, a Stapleton resident and DACA recipient who works as a service referral coordinator for La Colmena. “[Voting] is just a way for us to have a voice in our community on a higher level.”

Also showing their support outside the courthouse Tuesday were members of New York Immigration Coalition, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

A statement posted later on Twitter by the AALDEF read in part, “immigrants get the job done and deserve a voice in our democracy.”

In January, the city’s Department of Immigration Affairs issued a statement saying the bill “is a historic step in the right direction toward affirming the enormous contributions of immigrants in New York City and nationally.”


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