Brookline Passes Petition To Allow Legal Immigrants To Vote

By Alana Gomez and Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BROOKLINE (CBS) — The Brookline Town Meeting passed a petition that would allow legal immigrants the right to vote in municipal elections.

On Wednesday night, Town Meeting members in Brookline overwhelmingly approved a petition that would let legal immigrants there vote in local elections.

The petition would need the approval of state lawmakers before it would become official.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

“National discourse for immigrants promotes suspicion and fear,” said Rebecca Stone, a Town Meeting Member. “I want Brookline to express its sense of value to the legal immigrants that make up the fabric of the town.”

“People who are here legally and working and owning homes and paying property taxes are the governed,” Stone explains, “And I think they have every right to have representation in their local government.”

Stone said the decision would only affect up to 1,500 people in Brookline.

And while who will be able to vote in the future is at issue, some locals are upset over who already voted on this topic. Critics don’t like the fact that only Town Meeting members, about 240 people, voted on this issue.

They think the whole town should have had a say.

Stone says that since Town Meeting members are, themselves, elected by the people, their vote is already a representation of the whole town.

If voters disagree, she says, they can hold members accountable the next time they run for office.

The home-rule petition was passed without an amendment that would’ve put the issue on the local ballot.

Town Meeting member Stanley Spiegal said allowing voters to pass the petition would’ve made the issue “more palatable at the State House.”

The state legislature has turned down similar home-rule petitions in Newton, Cambridge, and Amherst.

State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, whose district includes part of Brookline, expects that this attempt will meet the same fate as those before it.

Reached by telephone, Rep. Sanchez commented, “I am not optimistic. I am always hopeful that everyone will see the light and see the value that all immigrants have to the Commonwealth. But I am not optimistic.”

Town Meeting member Stone is realistic about the situation, too. But, she adds, “It was important for Brookline to make the statement, to say that we wanted to do this, and to leave it to the legislature to say that it wasn’t important enough to them not to actually act on it. If that’s the way they feel, so be it. We can hold them accountable, too.”

  • beaches

    Nothing against legal immigrants, but they are not citizens, it’s that simple. Why don’t they become citizens? They could vote then.

  • emom

    green cards, passports and visa’s do not give them the right to be a UNITED STATES CITIZEN, go thru the process to become one or leave.. no on allowing them to vote,, we can not vote in their country so they can not vote here, go home…

  • bob

    I’m just wondering. With winter coming, Is Patrick going to raise the sales tax again so he can provide all illegals with a free snow shovel? Again, just curious.

  • Just sayin'

    this is wrong on MANY levels. They are not citizens they do not have the right to vote in this country on anything. But then again I don’t think people who have moved out of this country, by choice, to continue to vote by absentee ballot either. I know a person who has not lived in this country for 15 years and she still votes here.

    Another thing, I saw this on the morning news and Robie said something to the effect of being surprised by the out come in light of the general feelings against immigrants, get it right it is illegal immigrants that we have a problem with. But if a legal immigrant wants to vote he’d better become a citizen.

  • deandm

    Did you know that permenent residence do not pay income tax for the first 7 years they are in this country? Yhey get to vote buth they don’t pay income tax. Tell your freinds. I bet they didn’t know either.

  • Sue

    If an immigrant plans on staying here and investing in this country they should go through the process our government put in place to become a legal citizen the way my father did. He was proud of his citizenship and proud to be an American. Voting is for citizens, not visitors. Seems like a no brainer to me.

  • deandm

    If a perm resident obtains a buisness ( 7/11, your local nail salon) they obtain work visas for their family members. Those family members come to the us, work and pay no taxes for 6 months. The return to their country taking the money with them and new ones come in. the proccess is repeated over and over. Creating 0 american jobs while taking american money to another country. Think about it.

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