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Push Is On to Give Legal Immigrants Vote in New York
NY Times ^ | April 8, 2004 | ROBERT F. WORTH

Posted on 04/07/2004 10:33:53 PM PDT by neverdem

At first glance, it may seem a long shot in an era of orange alerts and stepped-up border patrols. But quietly and carefully, elected officials, labor unions and community groups are starting to push the notion of allowing legal immigrants who are not United States citizens to vote in New York City elections.

Supporters say it is not an outlandish proposition. They point out that even without citizenship, legal immigrants pay taxes, send their children to public schools and serve in the military. Noncitizens in many states were allowed to vote in local, state and even Congressional elections as recently as the 1920's. Until New York City moved to abolish its school boards two years ago, all residents had the right to vote for and serve on them. And although a proposal to open city elections to immigrants was raised 10 years ago without success, some people believe that the time may now be right.

In the last decade, five towns in Maryland have allowed noncitizens, even illegal immigrants, to vote in local elections. Campaigns for immigrant voting rights are under way in several cities, including Hartford; Cambridge, Mass.; and Washington, where Mayor Anthony Williams has said he supports giving legal immigrants the vote in District of Columbia elections.

Those initiatives may be taken more seriously in a campaign season when politicians in both major parties are making overtures to immigrants, as President Bush has with his proposal to grant temporary legal status to millions now living here illegally.

For the moment, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has declined to express an opinion on the subject, and Gifford Miller, the speaker of the City Council, said this week that he was still studying the legal issues. Several union locals have quietly indicated their support, though only one has formally joined the coalition that is promoting the idea.

At a minimum, it is an intriguing prospect in a city with about a million legal immigrants of voting age who are not citizens — equivalent to more than a fifth of the total number of current voters. Granting those people, most of them Hispanic or Asian, the right to vote could change the electoral calculus in a number of arenas, from the races for mayor and the five borough presidents to ballot questions on city borrowing and building projects.

The new voters would be more likely to elect minority candidates, political analysts say, and could force politicians to become more responsive to issues like deportation policy and immigrant access to health care. If voting rights were extended to the state level — truly a long shot at this point — the effects would be even greater, forcing redistricting that could affect the balance of power in Congress. Although all residents are counted when district lines are redrawn, normally only eligible voters are included when the new districts are challenged in court under the Voting Rights Act.

"This would be seismic in its impact," said Roberto Ramirez, a political consultant and lawyer who has served as a state assemblyman and chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party. "Both parties would have to develop a different mindset to address policy issues for those residents who have historically not been part of the political process."

Nationally, there are more than 10 million legal immigrants who are not citizens, according to estimates based on census figures. Some are waiting to become citizens, a process that often takes as long as 10 years with the current backlog of applications. Others are not eligible for citizenship because they are here on temporary visas, or have simply not applied.

In New York City, the latest proposals are still being drafted by two council members, Bill Perkins and John C. Liu. Supporters all agree that whatever measure surfaces, it should extend the vote to legal immigrants who are eligible to become citizens. Some would prefer a broader law to include anyone who pays taxes, regardless of immigration status.

There will certainly be opponents. Critics say that giving newcomers the right to vote would undermine the very idea of citizenship.

"Extending voting rights to noncitizens eliminates the last distinction between people who have accepted permanent membership in the American people and those who have not," said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that favors greater restrictions on immigration. "That distinction is important to maintain."

The political landscape affecting the proposal has changed in recent years. When the idea was first broached in New York and Washington in the early 1990's, some black community leaders opposed it, seeing immigrants as political and economic competitors. That is no longer true, at least in New York, where a number of black leaders and elected officials say they see the effort as an extension of the civil rights movement. Mr. Perkins, one of the councilmen drafting legislation, is African-American.

A stumbling block was removed this year when lawyers for the City Council reviewed state election law and decided that the city could alter its voting statutes without the approval of the State Legislature, where noncitizen voting measures were introduced without success three times during the 1990's. Nothing in New York State's Constitution forbids voting by noncitizens.

A dozen New York organizations have formally joined a coalition that is actively promoting the cause; they have organized community meetings and held a conference last month at City College in Manhattan. Half are immigrant-based groups like the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund and New Immigrant Community Empowerment, and some others have links to organized labor. Immigrant sponsors have a clear self-interest: their politicians would presumably get new votes, and their communities would get more influence.

Seven or eight other organizations, including three union locals and some nonprofit political and legal groups like Common Cause, say they support the idea as well.

The groups say their optimism is based in part on the Bloomberg administration's general receptiveness to immigrant concerns.

"In the past two years New York has passed strong laws that protect immigrants and give them better access to government, and we are confident New Yorkers will support voting rights once they fully understand the issue," said Bryan Pu-Folkes, the executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, based in Queens.

Noncitizen voting is sometimes dismissed as a left-wing hobbyhorse that can succeed only in overwhelmingly Democratic places, like the towns in Maryland where such laws have passed.

Still, it is not at all clear that the new voters would favor one party over the other, said John Mollenkopf, the director of the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York. In their last elections, Mr. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki each drew more than a third of the Hispanic vote in New York City, Mr. Mollenkopf estimated, a strong showing for Republican candidates. Asian voters are even more likely than Hispanic voters to lean Republican, he said.

Whatever the political fallout, some opponents argue that noncitizen voting is bad policy and would remove an incentive to becoming a full United States citizen. The idea's proponents counter that getting the right to vote could help provide a political education for new immigrants and give them an appetite for voting in presidential elections, which is restricted to citizens by federal law.

"In many ways, this prepares people," said Gouri Sadhwani, the executive director of the New York Civic Participation Project, one of the groups pressing the issue. "They start local, and then they become citizens and vote in national elections."

All of these arguments have long histories. From the founding of the nation until the early 20th century, immigrants had a civic voice that many citizens, including blacks and women, did not. At various times, they voted in 22 states and federal territories (though New York moved early, in 1804, to restrict voting to citizens).

The practice known as "alien suffrage" was less common in the South than other parts of the country, largely because new immigrants tended to be hostile toward slavery. The first article in the Confederate Constitution banned noncitizen voting, said Jamin Raskin, a law professor at American University and a leader of the modern movement to give immigrants the vote.

State legislatures began narrowing their suffrage laws in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as huge waves of immigration from southern and eastern Europe led to greater suspicion about political radicalism among the newcomers. By 1928, voting at every level had been restricted to United States citizens.

That remained true until 1992, when the town of Takoma Park, Md., passed a measure allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections. Since then, four other towns in Maryland have followed suit. Two communities in Massachusetts, Cambridge and Amherst, have passed similar measures, but have been blocked from implementing them by the absence of enabling state legislation.

Giving immigrants the right to vote will not be an easy sell, even in New York. Some proponents say they will be content for the moment if they can force people to rethink a fundamental issue.

"Whether or not we pass this law in the next year, this is an idea whose time has come," said Bertha Lewis, the executive director of Acorn, an advocacy group for low-income families that is planning rallies to support the move. "You cannot put this genie back in the bottle."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Connecticut; US: District of Columbia; US: Maryland; US: Massachusetts; US: New York
KEYWORDS: aliens; dualloyalties; immigrantvote; interdependence; legalimmigrants; suffrage; trojanhorse; votingrights

1 posted on 04/07/2004 10:33:53 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: cyborg; Clemenza
PING
2 posted on 04/07/2004 10:36:20 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: All
The home of the right
Liberty, prosperity
Your support makes us.
3 posted on 04/07/2004 10:37:50 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Don't be a nuancy boy)
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To: neverdem
Thank god I live in California. The rest of the country is REALLY going to hell.
4 posted on 04/07/2004 10:39:16 PM PDT by lewislynn (Free traders know it isn't , they just believe cheap popcorn makers raises their living standards.)
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To: neverdem
"You cannot put this genie back in the bottle."

Want to bet Bertha?
5 posted on 04/07/2004 10:39:29 PM PDT by John Lenin
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To: neverdem
With every one of these hairbrained ideas, the left makes citizenship worth less and less. One wonders what how bad it will be before our kids check out. It's already worse than I thought I'd ever see it.
6 posted on 04/07/2004 10:40:26 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
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To: neverdem
This is an outrage. Voting is the perogative of CITIZENS. I don't want foreigners electing our officials. Please make your representatives aware of this Constitutional travesty being proposed in NY.
7 posted on 04/07/2004 10:43:12 PM PDT by ETERNAL WARMING (We have the best politicians corporate money can buy!)
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To: DoughtyOne
Next the citizens of UN member countries will get to vote for our President. They buy American products (well 3 or 4 of them anyway), so they should have a say.
8 posted on 04/07/2004 10:51:36 PM PDT by edeal
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To: neverdem
It is time for an American Diaspora.

Just like the best of the Chinese left China to go to Taiwan, or overseas.

Just like the Jews left Israel after the Romans (the secular liberals of their day) destroyed their country.

9 posted on 04/07/2004 10:55:23 PM PDT by ikka
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To: NYC Republican; NYCConservative; NYCVirago; NYC GOP Chick; Cacique; CRAW; Ed_NYC; gaucho; ...
PING
10 posted on 04/07/2004 10:56:35 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: lewislynn
Thank god I live in California. The rest of the country is REALLY going to hell.

LOL!

And now we have the President's brother, the Republican Jeb Bush down in Florida, calling for support of illegal aliens and wants to offer them legitimate driver's licenses!

He must be reading Gray Davis's old notes.

11 posted on 04/07/2004 10:57:55 PM PDT by Joe Hadenuf (I failed anger management class, they decided to give me a passing grade anyway)
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To: edeal
That would be a lot funnier if I didn't half expect to see it proposed by some idiotic group or another. Good point.
12 posted on 04/07/2004 10:59:26 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
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To: ikka
The problem: where do we GO???? Patriots have no other place to turn. Remember - our forefathers escaped from all over the world to come here.

This Nation (as it currently exists) is doomed. Only a revolution and a return to true Constitutional foundations can save the American dream.
13 posted on 04/07/2004 11:00:13 PM PDT by clee1 (Where's the beef???)
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To: lewislynn
Thank god I live in California. The rest of the country is REALLY going to hell.

Like they don't to the same thing here, huh?

And you forgot your sarcasm tag.

14 posted on 04/07/2004 11:00:44 PM PDT by navyblue
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To: neverdem
In other news, Democrats have announced a plan to end the horrible denial of suffrage to Deceased-Americans.

Some have been denied their rights for over 200 years in this country, and it is said that they must be able to exercise their rights, and vote Democrat.
15 posted on 04/07/2004 11:05:46 PM PDT by RWR8189 (Its Morning in America Again!)
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To: Joe Hadenuf
He must be reading Gray Davis's old notes.

I know, there's like 7(?) states who allow illegals to have licenses but in his e-mail to his resident spokesmouth (summer) the moron chose to use a non-existent California law as an example...I guess he's trying to reassure everyone that he's not going to do what California didn't do....LOL!

16 posted on 04/07/2004 11:06:45 PM PDT by lewislynn (Free traders know it isn't , they just believe cheap popcorn makers raises their living standards.)
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To: neverdem
The country started going downhill when the vote was extended to those who didn't own property.
17 posted on 04/07/2004 11:08:17 PM PDT by My2Cents ("Well...there you go again.")
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To: navyblue
And you forgot your sarcasm tag.

I'm not being sarcastic, I mean every word of it....

18 posted on 04/07/2004 11:08:47 PM PDT by lewislynn (Free traders know it isn't , they just believe cheap popcorn makers raises their living standards.)
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To: archy
Ping
19 posted on 04/07/2004 11:14:40 PM PDT by clee1 (Where's the beef???)
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To: lewislynn
I'm not being sarcastic, I mean every word of it....

I know! And I'm right here suffering along with you!

20 posted on 04/07/2004 11:15:08 PM PDT by navyblue
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To: lewislynn
Thank god I live in California. The rest of the country is REALLY going to hell.

LOL!

Next is giving Mexican and French citizens the right to vote in the USA.

21 posted on 04/07/2004 11:18:13 PM PDT by KC_Conspirator (This space outsourced to India)
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To: lewislynn
Thank god I live in California. The rest of the country is REALLY going to hell.
LOL. I wonder which state will be the first one to secede from the union. I have my money on Cali. We basically have to do everything by voter intiative, and that process is already fradulent.

22 posted on 04/07/2004 11:19:45 PM PDT by sixmil
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To: RWR8189
LOL, voting by the deceased is stll alive and well in many large cities in our country, wherever they supervise elections. I'm sure democrats have learned the technique around the world.
23 posted on 04/07/2004 11:25:22 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
NYCPP is one of the groups. From http://www.gadgetfarm.com/noa/jobbank/job_detail.cfm?ID=1622

"The New York Civic Participation Project (NYCPP), a project of La Fuente a Tri State Worker & Community Fund, is a join initiative of labor unions and community organizations that promotes immigrant and worker rights through engaging union members in community organizing.
The NYCPP was initiated by SEIU Local 32BJ, HERE Local 100, AFSCME DC 37, Make the Road by Walking and the National Employment Law Project. The NYCPP also works closely with other union, community and city-wide partners."
24 posted on 04/07/2004 11:58:53 PM PDT by lonewacko_dot_com (http://lonewacko.com/blog)
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To: sixmil
I think Texas has that legal option.
25 posted on 04/08/2004 2:22:45 AM PDT by TxBec (Tag! You're it!)
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To: neverdem
big mistake
26 posted on 04/08/2004 4:00:11 AM PDT by cyborg
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To: neverdem; cyborg; Clemenza; rmlew
This is a slap in the face to every citizen and particularly naturalized citizens like myself. People who are not citizens have not given an oath to the US Constitution, they have not committed themselves to become Americans. Citizenship will become even more worthless and the idea of the nation state made up citizens loyal to it will become meaningless.

For a long time there has been a small movement on the left that claims that the presidency of the US is too important to be left to only americans to vote. This is the crack in that door. The internationalist collectivists who want to hand over power to the UN will have their way. Loyalty to the nation has become a meaningless concept.

My father is turning in his grave. Even after having fought in WW II in the US army it did not give him an automatic right to become a US citizen with the right to vote. Now they intend to hand it out like it was candy. While the enemy from without attacks our borders the fifth columnists from within destroy our institutions.

27 posted on 04/08/2004 7:33:47 AM PDT by Cacique
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To: Cacique
I agree... what will motivate non-US citizens to be citizens if they are allowed to vote? It's bad enough that a lot of natural born Americans don't take civics and government responsibility seriously.
28 posted on 04/08/2004 7:43:41 AM PDT by cyborg (GO CONDI GO!)
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To: neverdem
All the terrorits need then is smuggle enough people into the country and they can control the election. Pure insanity, proposed by traitors.
29 posted on 04/08/2004 7:49:58 AM PDT by Dante3
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To: DoughtyOne
With every one of these hairbrained ideas, the left makes citizenship worth less and less.

Not surprising; it is already meaningless to them.

30 posted on 04/08/2004 7:52:24 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: neverdem
Why bother becoming a United states citizen? What's the point anymore?


31 posted on 04/08/2004 7:53:45 AM PDT by Mears (The Killer Queen--caviar and cigarettes)
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To: neverdem
"Giving immigrants the right to vote will not be an easy sell, even in New York. Some proponents say they will be content for the moment if they can force people to rethink a fundamental issue."

Okay - I rethought the issue and am still vehemently in opposition to having any one other than US citizens voting in elections. Another really bad idea that should be thrown on the trash heap of ideas that have no merit.
32 posted on 04/08/2004 7:54:09 AM PDT by familyofman
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To: Cacique
Nowhere in this article is there any mention of how they're going to prevent non-citizens from voting in state and national elections, once they're permitted to register.

I suppose they think we should put people who have broken the law to come here on the "honor system", and just trust they will not pull the lever for President once they're in the booth.
33 posted on 04/08/2004 7:57:32 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: lewislynn
his e-mail to his resident spokesmouth (summer)

LOL...well, thanks. I guess. Sounds like some kind of paid position, but I assure you it is not. I really am a public school teacher.

And, I do realize people did not like that position he took. So, perhaps, sometimes, it is he who learns something. Ever consider that?

Also, I believe a learning curve has been evidenced before, as in the case of Terri S. in FL. I do feel one major reason she is still alive because of the outrage constinuously expressed here on FR -- and no "resident spokesmouth" take credit for that. It is the individuals who kept up their outrage that finally made the difference. It could happen again, IMO.
34 posted on 04/08/2004 2:43:35 PM PDT by summer
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To: hellinahandcart
Nowhere in this article is there any mention of how they're going to prevent non-citizens from voting in state and national elections, once they're permitted to register.

I was thinking about that, too, after I read this article.
35 posted on 04/08/2004 2:44:22 PM PDT by summer
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To: Mears
Why bother becoming a United states citizen? What's the point anymore?

That thought, too, crossed my mind when I read this article today. It seems the lines are continuously being blurred.
36 posted on 04/08/2004 2:45:38 PM PDT by summer
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To: neverdem
Nationally, there are more than 10 million legal immigrants who are not citizens, according to estimates based on census figures. Some are waiting to become citizens, a process that often takes as long as 10 years with the current backlog of applications. Others are not eligible for citizenship because they are here on temporary visas, or have simply not applied.

I was wondering about this on the other thread (re Gov Bush) -- why does it take so long to become a citizen, for those who want to be citizens (and not illegal or "legal" immigrants)?

Is the reason we have all these new proposed laws concerning immigration simply because the govt is just too inefficient to timely handle issues of citizenship?

So, the answer, of some, is to toss aside the entire concept of citizenship?

That what it is sounding like to me - We here in the govt can't get caught up with all this paperwork, so, what the h*ll; let's just abandon the concept of "citizenship." I don't think current citizens, across the board, will ever buy that line of thinking from the govt.
37 posted on 04/08/2004 2:53:53 PM PDT by summer
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To: lewislynn
I meant to type: Also, I believe a learning curve has been evidenced before, as in the case of Terri S. in FL. I do feel one major reason she is still alive is because of the outrage continuously expressed here on FR -- and no "resident spokesmouth" can take credit for that. It is the individuals who kept up their outrage that finally made the difference. It could happen again, IMO.
38 posted on 04/08/2004 3:00:28 PM PDT by summer
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To: neverdem
And, in other news I read today -- we have a legislator who wants to eliminate the legal concept of "marriage":

WIPE OUT MARRIAGE: LEGISLATOR

NY Post, By FREDRIC U. DICKER

April 8, 2004 -- ALBANY - The same-sex marriage controversy took a new and dramatic turn yesterday as one of the state Legislature's few openly gay members proposed abolishing marriage altogether in New York.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) said she would introduce legislation today to remove all references to marriage from the state Domestic Relations Law and replace them with the term "civil unions."

"There would be civil unions for all," Glick told The Post.

She said religious and civil unions could still be called "marriages" under her proposed law, but that the term would have no legal standing.

Glick said she had 12 Assembly Democrats backing her proposal, including Daniel O'Donnell of Manhattan, another openly gay lawmaker and brother of Rosie O'Donnell, and Richard Brodsky, a potential candidate for attorney general in 2006, of Westchester.

But she said she had no sponsor for the measure in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"I suspect, that in the end, the courts will deal with the blatant inequality that is existing in the law today," said Glick.
39 posted on 04/08/2004 3:21:53 PM PDT by summer
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To: Cacique
The Italians (at least in Rome) are already doing this:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1106959/posts

When in Rome, do as the Romans do? NOT!

40 posted on 04/08/2004 9:42:37 PM PDT by Clemenza ("Knowledge is Good" --- Emil Faber, Founder of Faber College)
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To: Cacique
Bravo! This is the best argument I've ever read against giving non-citizens the right to vote!
41 posted on 04/08/2004 10:01:24 PM PDT by NYC GOP Chick ("If I could shoot like that, I would still be in the NBA" -- Bill Clinton, circa 1995)
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To: Clemenza
What truly pisses me off every time I go to vote (and I vote in just about every election) is seeing the tri-lingual ballots and instructions.

How can someone who was born here and has lived here 18 or more years not be able to read enough English to be able to read a ballot?! And don't naturalized citizens have to prove some proficiency in English?

42 posted on 04/08/2004 10:03:42 PM PDT by NYC GOP Chick ("If I could shoot like that, I would still be in the NBA" -- Bill Clinton, circa 1995)
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