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Non-Citizen Voting in San Francisco

Non-citizen voting blog image
November 5, 2019 SF Unified School District Board Election
By Ruth Geos

One seat on the SF Unified School District Board is now open for special election on November 5, 2019: a three-way contest between Robert K. Coleman, Jenny Lam, and Kirsten Strobel. This is the one local race for which San Francisco non-citizens have the right to vote, regardless of immigration status, if they are parents to children in the system and are willing to formally register.

This right was established when San Francisco voters approved Proposition N in 2016, granting non-citizens with children in the SFUSD the right to vote in school board elections. Formally speaking, Prop. N became a part of the San Francisco Charter, Article XIII Elections, Section 13.111.  New sections of the San Francisco Municipal Elections Code, §§ 1001-1005 were also adopted to regulate how the non-citizen registration and voting system would be handled separately from other local, state, and national elections where non-citizens could not vote. San Francisco citizen voters—whether parents or not—are also qualified to vote for Board of Education representatives.

Although declared a radical step by some when Prop. N passed, San Francisco’s adoption of limited voting rights for non-citizens is not as bold or as isolated as some may urge, and rather reflects the state of non-citizen rights and public participation that was common in the first part of American history. In early America, the suffrage pattern was to deliberately extend voting privileges to non-citizens, ending only in the 1920s in the wake of world events affecting political attitudes towards immigration.

Equating citizenship with the exclusive right to vote is not as accurate it may sound.  In 1872, four years after the 14th Amendment was passed but 48 years before the 19th Amendment granting women full suffrage, Ellen Van Valkenburg appealed for the right to register to vote in Santa Cruz County. The California Supreme Court found that the US Constitution at that stage did not offer parity in voting to women, even to women citizens, parsing the difference between political and civil rights of citizens. It pointed out that the right to vote is as we grant it:

…unnaturalized foreigners were by State laws allowed to vote—following in this respect the early policy of the Federal Government, who, in the ordinance of 1787, for the government of the Northwestern Territory, had permitted the elective franchise to the unnaturalized French and Canadians, of whom the population of that Territory was then largely composed. It will be found that from the earliest periods of our history the State laws regulated the privilege of the elective franchise within their respective limits, and that these laws were exactly such as local interests, peculiar conditions, or supposed policy dictated…
Van Valkenburg v. Brown (1872) 43 Cal. 43, 50–5

In contemporary times, San Francisco is not the only municipality—nor even the first—to extend voting rights to non-citizens in school board or other local matters. The city of Chicago, and ten municipalities in Maryland, including Tacoma Park, provide for non-citizen voting in local school board elections, and other American cities have also pushed forward on this initiative. Internationally, a range of countries, including Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and New Zealand, extend voting rights to residents who are not citizens, some even further than limited local participation.

The idea behind non-citizen voting in school board elections is to increase parental participation in public schools where their children are being educated. As advocates at the time of Proposition N pointed out, at least a third of all children in the SF public schools have immigrant parents, and these are the non-citizens who may not be otherwise represented. Some of these parents may be documented, with green cards, for example, and others undocumented, but all, as parents, have a stake in the allotment of school resources and development of school curriculum and policies.

This limited right to vote, however, comes with an implicit risk—as plainly stated in all San Francisco election materials:

non-citizen voting

The risk to families is compounded by the requirement that a non-citizen voter registration is valid for one school board election at a time; the San Francisco Municipal Elections Code §1002(d) requires that a new voter registration be submitted for each school board election by non-citizens.

Reports from the 2018 midterm election estimate that no more than 60 San Francisco non-citizens voted in the last school board election. Prop N included its own sunset provision, extending non-citizen voting rights only to the end of 2022, requiring the Board of Supervisors, with the input of the entire San Francisco community, to then decide whether to continue with this policy initiative. At least until 2022, non-citizen parents in San Francisco with children in the public schools are entitled to vote in school board elections—and perhaps that’s sufficient time, in the best of worlds, to resolve the inherent dilemmas and to decide whether we will uphold the right itself.


The registration deadline for all voters for the next November 5, 2019 election has passed; however, all San Francisco voters who missed this date are still permitted to go in person to register and vote a provisional ballot either at the City Hall Voting Center or the SF State voting Center to vote.  Find more information at the SF Board of Elections, or call them at: (415) 554-4375.


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August Book Drive

Book Drive

Each month we will seek donors to purchase a new title for the Law Library. Here is our Wish List for the month of August. Growing our collection is about so much more than a single book—it is a living demonstration of how the Library expands the public’s access to justice and provides legal practitioners with the tools they need to represent members of our local community. Please see our Donation Guide for more ways to support the Law Library.

Lawyer's Guide to Increasing RevenueThe Lawyer’s Guide to Increasing Revenue, 3rd ed.
Written by Arthur G. Greene and Peter D. Roberts
$54.95, Paperback, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64105-466-9

Formulas for Calculating DamagesFormulas for Calculating Damages, 2nd ed.
Written by Mark Guralnick
$169.95, Paperback, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64105-460-7

Waivers BookThe Waivers Book: Advanced Issues in Immigration Practice
2nd ed.

Written by Irene Scharf et al.
$269, Paperback, 2017
ISBN: 978-1573704090
We would welcome a partial contribution toward the purchase of this book!


Thank you to author Heidi K. Brown for generously donating her two books Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy (part of the May Book Drive) and The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered AdvocacyAnd come to our upcoming free lunchtime program on August 9th featuring the author herself!

Please take a look at our Book Drive page to see Wish List items from prior months. We are still wishing for these books!


To donate, please contact sflawlibrary@sfgov.org or call (415) 554-1791. We appreciate your contribution!


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January Book Drive

Book Drive

Each month we will seek donors to purchase a new title for the Law Library. Here is our Wish List for the month of January. Growing our collection is about so much more than a single book—it is a living demonstration of how the Library expands the public’s access to justice and provides legal practitioners with the tools they need to represent members of our local community. Please see our Donation Guide for more ways to support the Law Library.

Computer Games and Immersive Entertainment

Computer Games and Immersive Entertainment: Next Frontiers in Intellectual Property Law, Second Edition
Written by Chrissie Scelsi and Ross A. Dannenberg, Editors, and Contributing Authors
$89.95, Paperback, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-6342-5118-1

Cal Courts Assn Probate Procedures

Probate Procedures CD (2019)
Written by California Court Association
$50, CD-ROM, 2019

AILA PERM 2019 ed 2

AILA’s Guide to PERM Labor Certification (2019 Ed.)
Written by American Immigration Lawyers Association
$279, Paperback, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-57370-429-8

To donate, please contact sflawlibrary@sfgov.org or call (415) 554-1791.  We appreciate your contribution!


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New Titles: Important Topics

New Titles September 2018

As the law rises to meet the heightened social and political challenges of our times, our collection expands. Newly added to our print collection are three new titles in immigration law: the Law of Asylum in the United States, Immigration Trial Handbook, and Immigration Pleading & Practice Manual. Other titles include Hate Crimes Law, Lentz on School Security, the impressive Information Security & Privacy: A Guide to Federal and State Law and Compliance, and False Claims Act: Fraud Against the Government.  Ask the Reference Team for these and related titles.

Immigration:

Law of AsylumLaw of Asylum in the United States 2018 edition by Deborah E. Anker

Updated overview of legal protections to refugees under domestic and international law, with an analysis of types of persecution recognized as entitled to protection, including new categories such as environmentally displaced refugees fleeing the effects of climate change, along with rights and benefits of asylees. Appendix includes an outline of procedures for withholding and deferral of removal,  components of the asylum interview, and post-hearing remedies.

 

Immigration Trial HandbookImmigration Trial Handbook 2017-2018 edition, Maria Baldini-Potermin

A practical overview of grounds and procedures to challenge inadmissibility and deportability, including preparation for hearings, custody and bond proceedings, evidence and objections, BIA appeals including filing petitions for review and emergency motions for stays of removal, along with a discussion of ethics issues. Appendix includes executive orders, memorandum, and practice advisories issued under the Trump administration, lists of resources, and other current analyses.

 

Immigration P&PImmigration Pleading & Practice Manual 2017-2018 edition, Thomas Hutchins

Model pleadings paired with practitioner notes, including sample letters and pleadings before the BIA, federal district court, and federal courts of appeal, including model motions, petitions, habeas challenges, and briefs. Appendices include flow charts of where to file documents in removal proceedings, immigration court deadlines, citation guidelines, sample subpoenas, and other very useful resources.

 


Hate Crimes

Hate CrimesHate Crimes Law 2018 edition, Zachary W. Wolfe [also available on Westlaw]

Excellent discussion of federal and state protections against hate crimes, including criminal and civil rights statutes, prosecution policies, and legal theories under federal law, and provisions under state hate crime statutes, including protections against bias-motivated violence and intimidation, along with an analysis of private causes of action. Extensive appendices collect federal and state hate crime statutes, statistics, and related resources.

 


School Security

School SecurityLentz School Security 2017-2018 edition, Mary A. Lentz

As incidents of violence and aggression in the school setting, from elementary to higher grade levels, have increased, this 2-volume set offers a formidable analysis of the many kinds of safety concerns faced by school authorities, including an overview of national and state laws, and a discussion of issues such as school law enforcement partnership, criminal behavior, threat response, student conflict resolution and intervention, safety preparedness, bullying and other forms of harassment, negligence and liability, and the concerns of special needs children. Also included are useful forms, checklists, and guidelines for protocols to develop for the school community.


Privacy

Info SecurityInformation Security & Privacy: A Guide to Federal and State Law and Compliance 2018 edition, Andrew B. Serwin

In two volumes and 40 chapters, an impressive assessment of federal and state privacy protections, each chapter providing an overview of the privacy topic followed by specific state provisions on that topic. Topics include internet and social media privacy, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, computer crimes, restrictions on phones and credit cards, employee privacy, identity theft, insurance and financial privacy, health and genetic privacy, and many other developing areas of privacy concerns. Also included are issues to consider for company protocols, forms of policies and notifications, such as records management and retention policy and sample notification breach letter.


False Claims & Qui Tam Actions

False Claims ActFalse Claims Act: Fraud against the Government, 3rd edition, with 2018 supplement [also available on Westlaw]

Fascinating and in-depth discussion of the legal framework and goals of the False Claims Act, the history of American qui tam actions against fraud, stemming from Civil War days, with a definition of threshold requirements, procedure, role of relator, and available remedies (including triple damages, penalties, and prohibitions against retaliation).  Also included are discussions of state and local False Claims Act, including California provisions for False Claims Acts, California Government Code §12650-12656.


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August Book Drive

Book Drive

Each month we will seek donors to purchase a new title for the Law Library. Here is our Wish List for the month of August, featuring books about marijuana, immigration, and John Lennon. Growing our collection is about so much more than a single book—it is a living demonstration of how the Library expands the public’s access to justice and provides legal practitioners with the tools they need to represent members of our local community. Please see our Donation Guide for more ways to support the Law Library.

PLI Legal Guide to the Business of Marijuana

Legal Guide to the Business of Marijuana
Written by James T. O’Reilly
$249, Paperback, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-40243-134-0

John Lennon vs. The USA

John Lennon vs. The USA: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History
Written by Leon Wildes
$27.95, Hardcover, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-6342-5426-7

Guide for Immigration Advocates

A Guide for Immigration Advocates
21st ed.
Written by Immigrant Legal Resource Center Staff Attorneys
$295 (with nonprofit discount), Paperback, 2018

To donate, please contact sflawlibrary@sfgov.org or call (415) 554-1791.  We appreciate your contribution!


Recent Book Drive Donations

Thank you to Fernando Marinez & Shartsis Friese LLP for generously donating current editions of:

Please take a look at our Book Drive page to see Wish List items from prior months. We are still wishing for these books!

Thank you for your support!


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Interesting New 2018 California Laws – Part 2

2018 New Laws

Of course there are more new laws to look forward to in 2018!  Part 2 includes some of the big ones (cannabis, sanctuary state), as well as laws on education and free rides from beer manufactures.

  • Prop. 64/AB 64: Cannabis: licensure and regulation – Californians 21 and over can buy up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis and 0.28 ounces (8 grams) of concentrates.  See our Cannabis Law LibGuide for more information.
  • SB 65: Vehicles: alcohol and marijuana: penalties – Building on Prop 64 and existing law related to alcohol use in vehicles, this bill adds smoking or ingesting marijuana while in a moving vehicle punishable as an infraction.
  • SB 64: Law enforcement: sharing data – Subject to exceptions, this “sanctuary state” law prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes, as specified.
  • SB 29: Law enforcement: immigration – Now city, county, city and county, or local law enforcement agencies cannot enter into a new contract or renew or modify an existing one with the federal government, a federal agency, or a private corporation for immigration detention centers.
  • AB 830: High school exit examination: repeal – Now the high school exit exam is officially repealed as a condition of receiving a diploma or graduation.
  • AB 19: Community colleges: California College Promise – This bill establishes the California College Promise which waives fees for one academic year to a community college for eligible first-time students enrolled in 12 or more semester units or the equivalent.
  • AB 10: Feminine hygiene products: public school restrooms – Public schools that meet the 40% federal pupil poverty threshold must stock free feminine hygiene products in a percentage of their restrooms.
  • SB 575: Patient access to health records – Health care providers will now provide certain low-income patients with a free copy of medical records when they are needed to support a claim for eligibility for a public benefit program (Medi-Cal, CalWORKs and CalFresh, and veterans benefits).
  • AB 369Appeals: child custody orders or judgments – Building on existing law, this bill authorizes that an appeal can be taken from a final order or judgment in a bifurcated proceeding for child custody or visitation rights.
  • AB 711Beer manufacturers: free or discounted rides – Building on the existing Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, beer manufacturers can now provide consumers free or discounted rides in order to further public safety.
  • AB 564Food and agriculture: fruits, nuts, and vegetables: inspections – The Secretary of Food and Agriculture may now enforce and make inspections of grade, standard of quality, and other provisions of raw unprocessed fruit, nut, or vegetable marketing, food safety, or enforcement program.
  • AB 646Rental property: disclosures: flood hazard areas: areas of potential flooding – Owners offering property up for rent on or after July 1, 2018 must disclose to tenants specified flood-related risk information.
  • AB 527Pest control aircraft pilot’s certificate: unmanned aircraft – Someone operating a manned aircraft in pest control must hold a valid manned pest control aircraft pilot’s certificate.  The same applies to an unmanned aircraft.

Interested in even more new laws?  See these articles for more information:


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Special MCLE Event with Jeff Adachi 11/8

Adachi JusticeWednesday, November 8, 2017, Noon to 1:30pm, On Public Defense, Immigrant Rights, and Racial Justice

Presented by Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender 

1.5 Hours free Participatory MCLE Credit

Mr. Adachi will discuss the state of public defense in California and the United States, criminal justice reform, including recent efforts to reform bail, sentencing laws and eliminate racial disparities, and his office’s recent efforts to provide public defenders to immigrants facing deportation.

Keep up-to-date with all of our free programs here.

Nov 8 2017 Jeff Adachi MCLE at SFLL Flyer