In an opinion piece on LoHud.com, one of the attorneys in Port Chester’s voting rights case revives questions about the effect of including non-U.S. citizens in the population count for districting purposes.
This argument came up during the DOJ’s lawsuit in Port Chester when the village was fighting a switch from at-large voting to single-member districts for trustees. Aldo Vitagliano (at left), who wrote the opinion piece, and attorney Anthony Piscionere argued that the presence of so many non-citizens in Port Chester would skew the voting power of people in various districts, violating the “one person, one vote” principle. An organization called the Project on Fair Representation argued this point also.
At the time, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case told me that such an argument was extremist nonsense — “a fairy tale.”
The village was ordered to change its trustee election system after it was deemed unfair to Hispanics, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. As it turned out, the village was not forced to create districts, switching instead to the unusual cumulative voting method as the remedy to its voting rights violation.
It’s still Independence Day season in Port Chester, given the various Latin American countries celebrating independence from Spain. For the fourth year, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is incorporating the festivities into its “Cultural Fridays” series, intended to showcase the different nationalities in the congregation.
Peruvians celebrated their day recently with a traditional “scissor dance” (photographed at Port Chester Fest, left) and a salute to Luis Marino, the village’s first Hispanic trustee and a native of Peru. Next up, Friday, are the Bolivians, gathering on their actual independence day, Aug. 6. Ecuadorians are celebrating at the church Aug. 13, Dominicans Aug. 20, Mexicans Aug. 27, and Central Americans on Sept. 3. The festivities start at 7 p.m. The Bolivian event will start with a Mass and be held outdoors in the church parking lot.
Father Hilario Albert began the Friday events with the hope of mingling the various groups, but that remains a challenge. “It has still been very, very slow-moving,” he said this week. “People come to their own, and they forget about the other.”
Newsday is reporting in detail on the stabbing death of Marcello Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant who authorities are calling the victim of a hate crime.
Seven teen-agers are charged with first-degree gang assault, and one is also charged with first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.
But some immigrant advocates are placing further blame on Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and the heated debates in the legislature over illegal immigration.
Here is a comment from Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition:
We extend our deepest condolences to the Lucero family, and call on all New Yorkers to come together in the face of this terrible tragedy to affirm their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and commit to fighting racial violence. Such hateful acts have no place in our community and our nation.
This killing was not a random isolated incident without any context. It arises out of a climate of hostility towards immigrants that has festered in Suffolk County for many years, spurred on by irresponsible political rhetoric and divisive legislation.
This is not the first time that the scapegoating of immigrants has created an environment conducive to violence against immigrant communities, but it needs to be the last.
From Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza:
While we are grateful that the authorities have taken swift action, it is important for all Americans to understand that this is part of an alarming trend taking place nationwide.
For too long hate groups and hate speech have dominated the national debate on immigrants, mischaracterizing all Latinos and the institutions that serve them in the process. Lives are literally in the balance.