San Francisco, always a leader in the “woke” politics of the progressive left, is innovating in a big way at the ballot this fall, allowing non-citizens – including illegal aliens – to vote in school board elections.
Why are noncitizens — legal and illegal — being invited to vote in the first place, in school board elections or, as in some other jurisdictions, other municipal elections? The reason is clear: Liberal politicians, devoid of ideas and with dwindling support among Americans, see a promising voter pool in foreign nationals who might be future citizens, and have decided to cut out the waiting time and just let people vote whether they meet established criteria or not. In San Francisco, Proposition N passed by a bare majority in 2016 after two prior, failed attempts at allowing non-citizens to vote in school board elections if they had school age children through the age of 18. (Note: Parents don’t have to certify that their child is actually in the school system; they could be MS-13 gang members for all the city cares). San Francisco politicians are trying to play this alarming development off as no big deal, “just” a school board election because after all, some of these children are born here and are citizens themselves (some, of course, are not) and why shouldn’t the parents have a say? — so the argument goes. But make no mistake – if Americans stand by and allow foreign citizens to control our schools, the next step will be foreign citizens voting for Mayor, District Attorney, Sheriff, Board of Supervisors, judges, and more — after all, they live here — why shouldn’t they have a say in local government? Note as well how carefully San Francisco politicians avoid making any distinction between legal and illegal immigrants – for such distinctions contradict the open-borders extremism of the left.
Focusing on the San Francisco school board elections, the implications are alarming enough. San Francisco Unified School District is the seventh largest in the nation, educating some 55,000 students annually, and very demographically diverse, with 36.3 percent Asian, 26.5 percent Hispanic, 13.3 percent white, and 7.6 percent black students. The 136 total schools in the district employ 10,000 employees, and had a budget for the 2016-2017 school year of a whopping $823,841,337 — averaging $10,182 in unrestricted funds per student ($566,065,162), with an additional quarter billion dollars in restricted funds. Over this massive government machine reigns the seven-member, liberal, San Francisco Board of Education, responsible, in its own words, “for establishing educational goals and standards; approving curriculum; setting the district budget … confirming appointment of all personnel; and approving purchases of equipment, supplies, services, leases, renovation, construction, and union contracts.” The Board of Education also appoints the county superintendent of schools.
Even more important than the vast bureaucracy, budget, and control over 55,000 impressionable young minds that the San Francisco Board of Education wields, is the fact that the board is a critical stepping stone to higher office in San Francisco. Three of the current members of San Francisco’s powerful Board of Supervisors – Jane Kim (recent mayoral candidate), Norman Yee, and Sandra Lee Fewer all served for years on the Board of Education. So did several other recent Board of Supervisors members, as did former Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, former Mayor Joseph Alioto, and disgraced, gun-running former state Senator Leland Yee. You can be assured that any candidates running for the San Francisco Board of Education and pandering for the votes of non-citizens, legal or illegal, are hoping to call on those same voters to propel them to higher office next.
The San Francisco Board of Education has made many decisions in recent years of particular interest to undocumented parents. For example, in 2017 the board adopted a resolution entitled “Undocumented, Unafraid and United Students Resolution” (full text available here), a radical pro-illegal-immigration manifesto that bars school personnel from cooperating with ICE, CPB, and all other immigration and law enforcement agencies other than the San Francisco Police Department. The resolution requires propaganda to be provided to all students regarding the role of immigrants, legal and illegal, in the history and economics of California and requires school officials to “make information regarding resources and supports for immigrants and identifying opportunities for alliances with immigrants available to all students, including but not limited to posters, pamphlets, contact information for community resources, and a toolkit with resources, including medical, legal and housing…” The Board of Education established a paid position at each middle and high school for an “Immigrant and Refugee Liaison,” and directs school officials to “establish school clubs to support undocumented students and students in mixed-status families, such as a Dreamer’s Club and establish confidential support groups as part of Wellness programs.”
Perhaps most troubling, the San Francisco Board of Education mandates that the district identify “earning opportunities, internships and trainings that do not require a social security number.” In other words, help illegal aliens find employment in violation of federal law! And all of this is with a school board currently elected only by citizens. When non-citizens – particularly those here without legal authorization — are allowed to vote for the Board of Education, we can only imagine how campaigning will skew toward further benefits to support illegal immigration, regardless of whether such benefits have any direct bearing on the core mission of the school board — to educate children and equip them to succeed in America. Johnny might not be able to read or do algebra when he leaves the SFUSD, but he can pick up some pamphlets on how to get a job in violation of federal law, and find out about housing, welfare, and legal resources too, not to mention fellowship of the officially sponsored “Dreamer’s Club.”
One final irony is that the voters finally passed this non-citizen-voting measure in 2016 during an election where liberal San Francisco voters fully expected that Hillary Clinton would become the President, and amnesty for illegal aliens was just around the corner. When instead Donald Trump was elected, San Francisco politicians panicked for a moment and decided to remedy the risk to undocumented parents who provide their addresses to publicly available voter rolls – by setting aside additional funds to translate warnings to these voters to alert them to the potential risks of providing their information to the government. As a result, such a warning is now available in 40 languages, and it seems that any prudent undocumented resident of the city would think twice before flagging themselves for ICE by voting in the school board election. Voter addresses are a matter of public record, and with the publicity that the city has attracted in its aggressive rollout of the new program, one can imagine that the federal government may be watching this election closely.
If our apathetic citizens continue to turn out at barely 50 percent in off-year elections, the chances of motivated non-citizens having a substantial impact on the outcomes of entry-level political races such as Board of Education, will increase as both politicians and non-citizens see a path forward for real foreign influence in our elections, far more tangible and potent than the specter of Russian bots tweeting propaganda in a social media echo chamber. While we are distracted by such issues at the national level, on the ground, non-Americans are having a growing impact every day at the polls. The Russian bots aren’t voting on the billion-dollar school board governance – but foreign nationals surely are, and the movement is coming to a city near you.
Harmeet K. Dhillon is a San Francisco civil rights and business law attorney, the Republican National Committeewoman from California, and Vice President for Communications of the Republican National Lawyers Association.