A guest columnist for the New York Times argued this week that "there is no good reason you should have to be a citizen to vote."
According to the Times, the essay is "part of a series exploring bold ideas to revitalize and renew the American experiment."
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, a New York-based progressive journalist and former senior editor of the Nation, claimed in an opinion piece Wednesday that "it's time for Democrats to radically expand the electorate."
How? First by granting permanent legal residents the right to vote. Why? Because, according to Abrahamian, they contribute as much to the country as any natural-born citizen.
"Nearly 15 million people living legally in the United States, most of whom contribute as much as any natural-born American to this country's civic, cultural and economic life, don't have a say in matters of politics and policy because we — resident foreign nationals, or 'aliens' as we are sometimes called — cannot vote," Abrahamian wrote.
According to her, the non-citizens who ought to be able to vote include "people with green cards, people here on work visas, and those who arrived in the country as children and are still waiting for permanent papers."
A permanent legal resident herself, Abrahamian argued that "expanding the franchise in this way would give American democracy new life, restore immigrants' trust in government and send a powerful message of inclusion to the rest of the world."
She casts it as an inspiring message of unity. But for those concerned with diluting the franchise, it is more than fair to wonder whether granting the right to vote to permanent legal residents is only the beginning. It's not hard to imagine how, after the franchise is expanded to include permanent residents, it could easily be expanded again and again.
Notwithstanding, the U.S. has adopted laws permitting only citizens to vote for a reason. Becoming a citizen "should mean something," argued the New York Post Editorial Board in 2020:
An immigrant's affirmative decision to become a citizen is a vital acceptance of duties as well as privileges.
"I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty," reads the oath of allegiance for the newly naturalized. And "I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic" and "bear true faith and allegiance to the same," including military service and other "work of national importance" as required by law.
The solemn oath is not one that someone should take lightly. It aims to isolate one's allegiance to the United States alone, over and above all foreign allegiances, in most cases.
That is a notion that Abrahamian clearly rejects. The journalist — who reportedly holds Swiss, Canadian, and Iranian citizenship — is also the author of a 2015 book titled, "The Cosmopolites: The Coming Global Citizen."
According to a summary posted online, in the book, Abrahamianan interviews scores of so-called "cosmopolites," or "citizens of the world," to promote what she sees as an "increasingly fluid, borderless world."