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New Lawsuit Challenges Immigrants’ Vote in New York


Sep 01, 2022

Advocates, local officials and community members pop off confetti during a rally celebrating gaining a super majority in the City Council for the Our City, Our Vote Legislation at Corona Plaza on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

This summary about immigrants’ right to vote was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Four Black registered voters in New York City have filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging the Our City, Our Vote Local Law 11-2022. 

The plaintiffs in the case are Phyllis Coachman, Anthony Gilhuys, Katherine James, and Deroy Murdock; Murdock is a regular contributor and commentator on conservative news platforms. They are represented by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group based in Indiana. 

They allege that the law — which was passed in December and would have allowed more than 800,000 immigrants who are lawful permanent residents to vote in local city elections — was “adopted with impermissible racial intent.”

They state “it was the explicit intent of the law’s sponsors to increase the voting strength of certain racial subgroups while simultaneously decreasing the voting strength of other racial subgroups,” and as such “violates the Fifth Amendment,” because “the right to vote is being allocated based on race.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of challenges and criticisms of the law from Republican voices since its enactment. 

The argument is similar to those in a previous lawsuit by mostly White Republican officials that said the value of their vote will be “diluted” if new immigrants are added. Documented wrote a detailed analysis of it back in July.

The new lawsuit alleges Black citizen voters will be negatively impacted when more Hispanic foreign citizens vote: The lawsuit cites former City Council member Laurie Cumbo, who said the law “is going to shift the power dynamics in New York City in a major way,” and potentially “impact African American communities who have been the most vulnerable in their existence in New York City.”

They also cited Council member Robert Cornegy, Jr. who has voiced similar concerns. The plaintiffs further highlighted data from the Census Bureau as evidence that the majority of foreign nationals residing in New York are either Hispanic or Asian; and they also argued that Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez spoke in favor of the law using racial terms. 

An appeal to reinstate the law has been filed and is still ongoing: In July, proponents of noncitizen voting, led by the New York Immigration Coalition, appealed the decision of a State Supreme Court judge from Staten Island who said the noncitizen voting law violated the State Constitution, and he therefore rendered the law invalid.

NYIC Executive Director Murad Awawdeh had told Documented that challenges against the legislation are “a tentacle of what Republicans are doing across the nation and trying to roll back and restrict voting rights for Black and Brown people.”

“Our democracy is stronger when more people are part of it. And the exclusion of our communities has always been wrong,” he said, “these are folks who pay taxes or [are] raising their families here. They should have a voice in how our city functions from how the trash gets picked up to the quality of their local schools and parks.”


New York

West Indian American Day Carnival Association lists parade events from Sept. 1-5: The largest Caribbean carnival in the United States is happening this year after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. — Documented

Resources for newly arrived migrants in New York: The resource list covers food and meals, clothes, school support, metrocards and cash assistance, shelter and medical support, and free immigration legal help. — City Limits

Democratic lawmakers call on Hochul to assist Afghan refugees: They want an additional $3 million to fund legal services for 2,500 Afghan refugees in legal limbo as federal legislation around their immigration status stalls. — Times Union

Around the U.S. 

In San Francisco, appeals court lets noncitizen parents vote in school board elections: The 3-0 decision puts on hold a judge’s ruling which had said the California Constitution allows only U.S. citizens to vote. — San Francisco Chronicle (Paywall)

Texas has spent more than $12 million sending migrants in buses to East Coast cities: Chicago will now also become a regular drop-off location for buses sent out of Texas, in addition to New York City and Washington, D.C. — Texas Tribune

Washington D.C.

State Department publishes September 2022 visa bulletin: The visa bulletin provides information on the supply and demand for immigrant and permanent resident visas. — Read more

Biden administration border crossings aren’t highest on record: Border arrests set a record in 2021, but border crossings were higher in the 2000s — as high as 3.7 million entries — a figure the crossings in 2022 are unlikely to surpass. — CBS News

Biden admin. to discontinue quick humanitarian parole for Afghans:The administration will instead focus on resettling certain evacuees who qualify for programs that grant permanent legal status. — CBS News



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