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Should foreign residents be eligible to vote?
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Foreigners and local interest vs. national interests

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In some countries foreign residents have already received their right to vote

The Argument

Foreign residents pay their taxes, and raise their children within their country of residency like naturalized citizens. They are also deeply involved in local communities, schools, and associations. Therefore, they should be allowed to vote in local elections; a vote that will most impact their lives. In other words, foreign residents and naturalized citizens live under the same policies set by legislative bodies, foreign residents have little ability to influence and select the representatives making laws. This exclusion is a fundamental violation of their self-determination— an affront to one of their most basic, inalienable rights. In the United States, such a reality turns millions of people (approximately 22 million) into political subordinates, further undermining the vitality of democratic life and making a mockery of American democracy. [1] That is to say that, "immigrants are a non-voting caste— disenfranchised pariahs in their adopted country."[1] Politicians can easily enact discriminatory public policy and private practices— in employment, housing, education, health care, welfare, and criminal justice— and run xenophobic campaigns, secure in the knowledge that non-citizens will not be able to punish them by voting such offenders out of office. That being said, although foreign residents should be allowed to vote in local elections, they should be barred from voting in elections at the national level due to conflict of interests. These conflicts could arise on various fronts, some of which may include an economic rivalry between their country of citizenship and residency.[2]

Counter arguments

Not only would allowing foreign residents to vote in any election deter them from seeking naturalization, but such an amendment will undermine the meaning of citizenship. The right to vote is a component of citizenship. It is not a dispensation granted to those who may or may not apply for citizenship.[3] By allowing foreign residents to vote, what difference is left between the status of non-citizens and naturalized citizens? Immigrants contribute great things to their countries of residency; these countries, in looking to incentive their foreign residents to stay and pursue citizenship will provide perks like voting. Moreover, becoming a citizen is certainly a process, and within this process, an individual will learn the ideals, goals, and interests of their country of residency. Only then will they truly understand the way in which voting works in their country and the history it is so deeply tied to. Voting is a privilege and should only be granted to those who have completed the process and have, as a result, shown that they stand in unity with their new home.[4] Furthermore, just because an individual pays taxes does not mean that they are not entitled to vote in that region. On the contrary, what foreign residents pay in taxes goes back into the resources that they (and naturalized citizens) use. Why should someone who does not pursue citizenship, who believes that they are not truly part of their nation pf residence, have a say in the way in which that nation is run?[2]


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 18:33 UTC