DMI Blog

Elana Levin

UPDATE, WE WON! Defend The Freedom to Vote

this just in
we won.

But the fight for the rights of people that are still learning English continues...
* * *
We are facing a big attack on democracy. Moments from now the House is voting on an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King(R-IA) that would in all practical terms disenfranchise any US citizen that doesn't speak English well and wants to vote. This amendment that would ban all non-English language ballots is actually being tacked on to the Voting Rights Act re-authorization itself. If passed, Rep. King’s amendment will overturn multi-lingual ballot mandates in Sections 203 and 4(f)(4) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is an insult to the Voting Rights Act and those who fought and sometimes died in the struggle to guarantee every American's right to vote.

Protecting the voting rights of American citizens that are still learning English is of paramount importance to DMI fellow Andrew Friedman (you can read the statement he issued here). Yesterday Andrew was interviewed for Texas radio and on WBAI which you can listen to online.

In his WBAI interview Andrew explains:

"What we are seeing is the first wave of attempts by the Right to try to transition from anti-immigrant hysteria to anti-US citizen hysteria when those US citizens are themselves immigrants.

Representatives in the House should understand this as an attack on American citizens and shouldn't be fooled by the right wing to try and bring some of the anti-immigrant frenzy of the last few months to bear on US citizens. I think this is a real effort to carry that same anti-immigrant spirit towards an effort to erode the rights of United States citizens.

I think its nefarious but I think its common."

The statement we issued says "It is problematic enough that supporters of this amendment link its need to immigration issues, when of course voting rights only apply to US citizens. What's truly at issue is whether this major vote will dismantle hard-earned civil rights legislation, and turn back the clock by limiting the percentage of Americans who can actually participate in American democracy."

I count myself as someone who would like to see more democracy and more participation in this country, not less. And as a resident of New York City, a place with a very large Puerto Rican community I view this amendment as an attack on my neighbors, people who are actually US citizens by birth but were raised on a Spanish speaking island. (That's not to say that every naturalized American citizen doesn't deserve the right to vote as well, I just find this attack to be extra bonus ignorant). I'd like to ask Rep. King and the others to tell why an elected official would be scared of democracy. As Andrew said, it is "nefarious and common."

Elana Levin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:20 PM, Jul 13, 2006 in Cities | Civil Rights | Language Access
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