We Vow to Continue Fighting to Restore Immigrant Parents’ Right to Vote

San Francisco: On Friday, the San Francisco Superior Court struck down San Francisco’s Ordinance 206-21, which gives immigrant parents the right to vote in school board elections. Non-citizen voting in San Francisco has been permissible through four election cycles until Republicans brought this lawsuit early this year with the sole purpose of disenfranchising immigrant parents.

Amos Lim, an immigrant parent who submitted a declaration to the Court, said, “I am saddened by this setback and at losing my rights at the ballot box. As a parent, I believe in the importance of advocating for my child’s education. I was registered, and I was planning to vote in the November school board election. Each immigrant parent must re-register for every election, and it takes great commitment to have our voices be heard. I hope that the City Attorney will appeal this court’s ruling.”

The San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission Chair Celine Kennelly stated, “By revoking this right, the court is denying immigrant parents the opportunity to have a say in the policies that shape their children’s education. The Immigrant Rights Commission will continue to promote civic engagement and fight for the rights of all San Franciscans, regardless of their immigration status.”

Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director of CARECEN SF, stated, “This decision represents a great setback in advancing racial equity and inclusion for all children and their families in San Francisco. It denies the voices of immigrant families and their right to have a say about their children’s education. It perpetuates a system that excludes, ignores and further denies the rights of all people to a high quality education. San Francisco’s immigrant community, advocates, and city elected officials will continue to advance policies of inclusion and due process for all regardless of migratory status.” CARECEN SF is a member of the Immigrant Parent Voting Collaborative (IPVC).

“Immigrant voting was a right won through decades of grassroots organizing and made a reality by the majority of San Francisco voters,” said Olivia Zheng, CAA’s Immigrant Rights Coordinator. “The City must continue to defend this right by appealing the decision. In a school district where the majority of students have at least one immigrant parent, noncitizen voting is crucial to preserving public interest and electing leaders who are representative of their constituents.” CAA is also a member of the IPVC.

Eric Cuentos, Parent Partner Director of Mission Graduates, stated, “We cannot let this stand and we will win. We know that allowing immigrant parents to vote in school board elections is not only what is fair, but it is also helping us to build a society where people can participate in the decision-making that affects their lives.” Mission Graduates is a member of the IPVC.

Judge Richard B. Ulmer’s decision misinterprets the legality of noncitizen voting, which is consistent with the San Francisco City Charter and the California State Constitution. Given this, CAA urges the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office to file a timely appeal of Judge Ulmer’s decision. We know that the San Francisco Ordinance 206-21 is legal and will ultimately prevail in court. CAA, the IPVC, and the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission vow to continue fighting to restore immigrant parents’ right to vote in school board elections.