For the first time in California, non-citizens can vote after The San Francisco Department of elections on Monday issued registration forms that permit them to vote for members of the San Francisco Board of Education.
However the new policy came with a warning that registering to vote as a non-citizen provides the federal government with both the name and address of those who have found sanctuary in San Francisco.
Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who advocated for the move, acknowledged the potential dangers of registering.
“Our immigrants, are they vulnerable? Absolutely,” Fewer said. “But in San Francisco we stand strong together.”
The move comes at at time when tension over immigration and scrutiny of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies is high, nationally. Conservatives including President Donald Trump have alleged voter fraud by noncitizens in the 2016 presidential election, although those allegations have not been substantiated.
Fewer said that while some parents object to allowing noncitizens to influence Board of Education election, the children of undocumented immigrants need to be prioritized.
“To those parents I say I don’t care that they are here undocumented,” she said. “I care that their children are in our public schools and that we must serve them.”
To be eligible to vote in the Board of Education election in the November primary, non-citizens must be residents of San Francisco, at least 18 years old on election day, and parents, legal guardians, or caregivers of children under the age of 19 who live in San Francisco. Non-citizens on parole for conviction of a felony are not eligible to vote.
Non-citizens will be able to vote in the next election for the Board of Education on Nov. 6, 2018 and at every Board of Education election until November 2022. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors may adopt to continue the ordinance.
This measure, however, comes with an apparent risk. Rallies have been held across the Bay Area after the current administration began separating children from their families after they crossed the border illegally.
Norma Garcia, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Mission Economic Development Agency, said MEDA will hold meetings to go over the risks with non-citizens interested in voting. Immigration lawyers will be present to answer questions.