Cambridge Immigrant Voting Rights Campaign Records, 1992-2003
- Cambridge Immigrant Voting Rights Campaign (Creator, Organization)
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The principles of the Campaign are founded on the idea that many stake holders in Cambridge who pay taxes, abide by laws, send children to the Cambridge Public Schools, own businesses, and rent or own properties are without formal representation. The 1990 census showed that 15% of Cambridge residents were non citizens and 20% were foreign born; the 2000 City Census recorded 20% of Cambridge’s population as non-citizens. The Campaign notes that immigrants often live in Cambridge for many years before becoming citizens. Although Massachusetts and the U.S. Constitutions limit the right to vote to citizens for state and national offices, local Massachusetts communities can pass home rule petitions to ask the state legislature to give them the right to allow all residents to vote, regardless of citizenship status. The Cambridge Voting Rights Campaign followed this law to gain the following political results:
• June 1999, the Cambridge School Committee decided in favor of immigrant voting rights for school board elections in a 5 to 1 decision.
• November 6, 2000, the Cambridge City Council voted to submit a home rule petition to the state legislature in a 5 to 3 decision.
• 2003, the City of Cambridge home rule petition was filed at the State House by Representative Alice Wolf and Representative Jarrett Barrios.
• February 2005, representatives re-filed home rule petition. No definitive action was taken.
Cambridge’s move to allow immigrant voting rights came two years after Amherst, Massachusetts passed its own home rule petition in 1998. It was approved by the House Election Committee but never reached the floor for a vote. In 2006, Wayland approved its own home rule petition. The three towns are awaiting action by the Massachusetts legislature.
In 2000, the Campaign came out against Ron Unz, Silicon Valley millionaire, who in 1998 spearheaded the passage of California’s Proposition 227, designed to ban bilingual education as an instructional method. After Arizona passed similar legislation two years later, Unz brought his campaign to Colorado and Massachusetts. He received enough signatures for a similar initiative to appear on the November 2002 ballot in Massachusetts, known as ballot question #2. The initiative passed by 68% and bilingual education was banned in the state.
The Cambridge Campaign is affiliated with the Immigrant Voting Project, a resource network dedicated to promoting discussion about the practice of allowing immigrants to vote in local elections.
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- Cambridge Immigrant Voting Rights Campaign Records, 1992-2003 041
- Alyssa Pacy
- June 27, 2013
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Part of the Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections Repository
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