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California Democratic Party Considers Proposal To Allow Non-Citizen Delegates

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California Democratic Party is considering a proposal to allow non-citizens to serve as delegates.

The proposal, introduced by the San Francisco County Democratic Party, would allow undocumented immigrants the opportunity to cast votes in party elections as delegates or proxies. The party shelved it until August, however, to allow for further discussion.

Chris Masami Myers, executive director of the California Democratic Party, says there isn’t opposition to the proposal — but putting it into effect may be complicated.

“Everything in our bylaws about becoming a member references being a registered Democrat,” Myers said. “So it’s complicated to figure out how to apply that to undocumented individuals.

While California is often a bellwether on immigration policies, the state party would be playing catch-up. In 2017, the national Democratic Party nominated an undocumented DREAMer to become a super delegate.

Sarah Souza, president San Francisco’s Latino Democratic Club and a member of the county party’s central committee, rallied behind the proposal at last weekend’s state party convention in San Francisco.

“We pay taxes, we contribute to Social Security and to the economy,” she said. “We want a seat at the table.”

Souza is an undocumented DACA recipient who came to the U.S. from Brazil nearly two decades ago as a teenager.   

While Souza can’t vote in state and local elections, she believes the state Democratic Party should allow non-citizens like her to vote in party elections as delegates and proxies — regardless of their immigration status.

She says she’s optimistic the state party will adopt the new rule in the coming months.

 California Democratic Party

Scott Rodd

State Government Reporter

Scott Rodd previously covered government and legal affairs for the Sacramento Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Scott worked as a freelance reporter in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.  Read Full Bio 

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