San Francisco will allow illegal aliens and other noncitizens to vote in its upcoming school-board election.
The Associated Press reported, however, that only 35 noncitizens had signed up to vote as of Monday, apparently fearing they would be exposed to federal officials. The city requires voting noncitizens to provide their address and date of birth.
San Francisco becomes the largest city in the United States to allow noncitizens to vote, although the voting is restricted to the school-board race.
San Francisco removed citizenship as a requirement for the school-board vote in 2016.
“We’re in an unprecedented arena of animosity toward our immigrant community, and that has really stopped people from voting,” said San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Fewer, the Associated Press reported.
David Lee, executive director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee, said people “are really fearful because the Trump administration is perceived to be very anti-immigrant.”
“There is legitimate concern that their information may be turned over to the federal government and that they may end up being detained or deported,” he told AP.
San Francisco has declared itself a “sanctuary city” that restricts its law-enforcement personnel and other employees from cooperating with the federal government on immigration.
The San Francisco School District says 29 percent of its 54,000 students are English learners. The government estimates 40,000 people in the city of 885,000 are in the country illegally.
AP quoted Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney and committeewoman for the National Republican Committee, saying that allowing noncitizens to cast ballots devalues the rights of citizens.
“Voting is a sacred privilege and a sacred right of citizens. It should not be trivialized for political gain,” she said.
In Maryland, at least six cities allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.