Santa Ana voters may decide in November to allow illegal immigrants to vote in local city elections, after the city council discussed July 19 placing the issue on the General Election ballot.
“These are people who pay taxes. These are people who live in our community,” City Councilman Ryan Hernandez, who introduced the item, said at a council meeting.
The discussion arose when the city council considered several possible ballot measures at a Tuesday meeting. It received support from Mayor Vicente Sarmiento, and councilors Thai Phan, Jessie Lopez, and Nelida Mendoza.
Councilmen Phil Becerra and David Penaloza were opposed.
Becerra said the issue was introduced “at the last minute” during the meeting and did not have a chance to undergo a more in-depth discussion by the city’s committee that reviews charter changes.
The council has not yet decided to place the issue on the ballot, but it may return for reconsideration on Aug. 2.
If the council votes for it, it will appear as a ballot measure before Santa Ana voters in November.
The mayor said voters are likely to be in favor of Hernandez’s idea, as there is a large population of illegal immigrants in the majority-Hispanic city.
More than 82,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to live in Santa Ana—about 26 percent of the city’s 310,000 total people—according to 2020 U.S. Census data.
In March 2021, the council made changes to allow illegal immigrants to sit on city boards, committees, and commissions.
If the ballot measure passes, Santa Ana will join San Francisco among others that have allowed illegal immigrants to vote in local elections. New York City passed a similar law, but it was struck down last month by a state Supreme Court judge in a lawsuit that alleged the rule violated the U.S. Constitution.
Aug. 12 is the last day for the city to file ballot measures.