New York City Mayor Eric Adams cleared the way Sunday for noncitizens to vote in the Big Apple’s municipal elections.
Mr. Adams also called on fellow Democrats to become what he called “radically practical” and focus on issues like Social Security over social-media wars.
“We have to be radically practical, radically practical. We need to deal with those kitchen-table issues that are important to everyday Americans and New Yorkers,” Mr. Adams told CNN on Sunday. “I strongly feel that. We can’t allow social media to dictate what happens. I say it all the time. It’s people on Social Security we need to be focusing on.”
The mayor allowed the bill to become law Sunday, by not vetoing it within 30 days of city council passage. The legislation will give more than 800,000 noncitizens the ability to vote in elections for municipal offices such as mayor and city council.
Opponents have vowed to challenge the law in court.
CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that Mr. Adams previously expressed concerns about letting noncitizens vote and questioned why the mayor changed his mind.
SEE ALSO: 19 people, including 9 children, killed in apartment fire in Bronx, official says
Mr. Adams disputed whether he had flip-flopped on the issue.
“I supported the concept of the bill,” Mr. Adams said. “The one aspect of that I had a problem with and I thought was problematic, was the 30-day part, of being in the country for 30 days, was the place that I had questions.”
The measure would allow noncitizens who have been lawful permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days, as well as those authorized to work in the U.S., including “Dreamers,” immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
“I sat down with my colleagues. I’m a big believer in conversation,” Mr. Adams said. “After hearing their rationale and their theories behind it, I thought it was more important to not veto the bill or get in the way at all,” he said
The new law would not allow noncitizens to vote in federal elections such as those for president or Congress. Nor can they vote in state elections for judges, legislators, or governor.
The new law’s implementation plan is scheduled to be ready in July and could result in immigrant voting in municipal elections next year.
SEE ALSO: Watershed moment in NYC: New law allows noncitizens to vote
Mr. Tapper noted that many people criticized the law as devaluing U.S. citizenship.
“Doesn’t the bill just make a mockery of the idea of American citizenship, though?” Mr. Tapper asked. “And what do you say to all the people who went through the process, the difficult process of becoming an American citizen … who now see this legislation just saying ‘well anyone who’s here, go ahead and vote’?”
Mr. Adams said the law “is not going to” devalue citizenship, but deflected the question by saying citizenship has other, unspecified privileges.
“Well, I say to them, keep doing it,” Mr. Adams replied. “Membership has its privileges. Being a member of what we call United States of America is a great privilege and I would tell them, keep doing it.”
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.