Boston weighs giving legal, non-US citizens voting rights

Credit: Atpilot/Instagram

BOSTON — Non-U.S. citizens living in the country legally may one day be allowed to vote in Boston elections.

The City Council is holding a hearing Tuesday on the idea at the request of Council President Andrea Campbell. The council is considering ways to make city elections more inclusive, including allowing immigrants with legal status in the country the right to vote in municipal races.

That could include legal permanent residents, visa holders and those on Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Campbell's order for a hearing says Boston has more than 190,000 foreign-born residents, which represents 28 percent of the city population. It also says non-U.S. citizens paid $116 million in state and local taxes and generated over $3.4 billion in spending according to a 2015 city report.

A 2016 Population Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau reported Massachusetts has one of the largest immigrant populations in the country with a total of 1,123,882 representing 16.5 percent of the total population.

Cambell's order for a hearing also added that "all members of a community should have the right to participate and be included in the governance of that community" and that "the purpose of local government is to strengthen the ability of diverse, cultural and linguistic communities to play an active role in the economic, civic, social and cultural life of the City of Boston."