Latinos rally for de Blasio, hope to sway him on noncitizen voting
At a "Latinos for de Blasio" rally on Sunday afternoon, Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio called on the state to provide drivers' licenses for undocumented immigrants, and he reiterated his support for municipal ID cards for non-citizens.
But de Blasio opposes another progressive idea for the city's immigrant population that wasn't mentioned on Sunday: allowing undocumented immigrants to vote.
At the rally, de Blasio spoke enthusiastically about the merits of issuing identification cards that undocumented residents could use to open bank accounts, lease apartments and receive library cards (an idea that was a non-starter in the Council in 2007).
"They may not be documented, but they are a half-million of our brothers and sisters, of our neighbors, of our family and friends," de Blasio said before a cheering crowd of mainly Hispanic lawmakers and supporters.
And he called on New York State to issue driver's licenses to the same population, an idea that former governor Eliot Spitzer could not push past considerable opposition in 2007.
"It's time that we call upon the State of New York to catch up with that progressive beacon, the State of Colorado," de Blasio said, in a reference to Colorado's decision earlier this year to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.
"I don't remember New York usually being placed behind Colorado on the progressiveness scale, so we've got some work to do," he added. De Blasio did not specifically mention Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
And he didn't mention noncitizen voting, which is the subject of a bill that has already been introduced in the City Council.
The legislation, titled Intro 410, currently has 31 co-sponsors, and its prime sponsor, Queens councilman Danny Dromm, has said he expects it to come up for a vote next year.
At a debate last week, de Blasio said he's "not comfortable" with the current plan.
"I've talked to the advocates on that issue," he said. "They've presented their plan to me. I'm not comfortable with it at this point. It's I think an idea that is founded in good intent but there's a number of specifics that I can't agree with, as least as it's written now."
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who attended Sunday's rally wearing a de Blasio pin on his jacket, predicted Hispanic groups would push the issue under the next mayor.
"[Voting] is the most basic and direct level of representation," he told Capital. "I believe they should have a role. I look forward to having that conversation with the next mayor."
Rivera, who supported Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary, said he anticipates "a level of access that we have't had before" in the mayoralty.
Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has touted immigrants' rights throughout his mayoralty, is opposed to the measure.