Officials in College Park are weighing a plan that would make their city the largest in Maryland to give undocumented immigrants a right to vote in local elections, a long-standing practice elsewhere in the state that has drawn new scrutiny amid the simmering national debate over immigration. The Prince George’s County city, home of the flagship University of Maryland campus and some 30,000 residents, is considering a measure to let noncitizens cast ballots for mayor and City Council — making it the latest target in a movement that has had more success in Maryland than anywhere else in the United States. College Park officials are debating the charter amendment after a divisive national election in which immigration played a prominent part. Many left-leaning cities, including Baltimore, are now at odds with President Donald J. Trump’s initial efforts to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on immigration violations.
Supporters of the College Park measure say local elections center on trash collection, snow removal and other municipal services that affect people regardless of their citizenship status. The proposal, like those already approved in other small Maryland cities and towns, would not allow undocumented immigrants to vote for president, senator, congressman or governor.
“These are folks who have a significant stake in our community, and who rely on the facilities in our city,” said College Park City Councilwoman Christine Nagle, who is sponsoring the measure.“To me, it just made sense.”
Opponents say immigrants — even those in the country legally, such as green-card holders — should not be able to have a say in the direction of the community until they complete the process of becoming a citizen.