December 9, 2013

The Dec. 7 editorial “ Voting is for citizens ” did not make a persuasive case against my bill to give D.C. residents who hold green cards the right to vote in local elections.

The editorial board acknowledged that the Constitution is silent on such voting and that it used to be legal, until “waves of European immigration began to reshape the nation.” The reality is that a wave of anti-immigrant hysteria forced the change, something we should not be proud of.

Green-card holders serve our city and our country by working for the federal government, for our businesses and nonprofit organizations, in the service sector and many other ways. They, as The Post noted, pay taxes. They also contribute to our city as volunteers and caregivers and enrich our cultural landscape and political life. And just like our citizen residents, they suffer when our city provides substandard services.

The costly and time-consuming process of acquiring legal status is enough to earn the right to hold local representatives to account. Many green-card holders are already involved in local politics. I am asking them, like all residents, to engage in our civic life. This should not end at the door of the voting booth.

David Grosso, Washington

The writer, an independent, is an at-large member of the D.C. Council.

I believe in a national immigration policy that includes a pathway to equal citizenship, I believe in the Dream Act and I believe in inclusiveness. But legislation before the D.C. Council to give noncitizens the right to vote is nothing more than cynical, political pandering. It is no coincidence that all those members of the council who are running for mayor support it.

I can’t believe that Congress, which cannot even decide on basic immigration policy and has the constitutional power to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District, would allow such a bill to become law.  Passage of the measure would accomplish nothing while providing fodder for those who oppose the District’s campaign for statehood.

No state allows voting by noncitizens, and it is statutorily prohibited in federal elections. If we want to be a state, we need to act like one. We don’t need the D.C. Council providing obstacles to our pathway to equal citizenship. We need to secure our own equal rights before we start extending them to others.

Michael D. Brown, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents the District of Columbia as a shadow U.S. senator.

I agree with the line of reasoning and the conclusions of the Dec. 7 editorial “Voting is for citizens.” It was a good reminder that liberal intentions can stray from the path of logic. However, the editorial omitted a major practical and strategic argument against enactment of the pending legislation: Congress continues to exhibit contempt for the residents of the District and overrules the city’s governance at the slightest whim. Can you imagine how such a law would play beyond the city?

Mary L. Miers, Bethesda