Coalition Letter to Congress on Campaign Finance Reform and the Rights of Lawful Permanent Residents

August 26, 1999

Campaign Finance Reform and
The Rights of Lawful Permanent Residents
 


Dear Member of Congress: 

As you begin to consider campaign finance reform legislation, we urge you to oppose any bills or amendments, such as the Bereuter/Wicker Amendment, to H.R. 417, the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill. Such legislation would bar lawful permanent residents ("permanent residents") from making campaign contributions and expenditures to local, state or federal elections. Legislation that imposes such a prohibition threatens the rights of minorities to participate in our nation's political process.

Often thought of as "citizens in training," permanent residents are stakeholders in our society who invest in their communities in many ways. Just as citizens do, permanent residents pay federal taxes on their worldwide income, as well as state and local taxes. Moreover, permanent residents are required to register for the draft; many are veterans or serve in the military currently. Many permanent residents operate businesses that contribute to our economy. Others send their United States citizen children to our schools. In short, permanent residents are concerned members of the communities in which they live.

Why should Congress oppose legislation that would ban permanent residents from making campaign contributions? A ban on campaign contributions by permanent residents would have a chilling effect on their political participation. Hindering the ability of permanent residents to support a candidate of their choice will prevent them from having a stake in the future of their communities. Moreover, the ability to voice support for a candidate who represents one's interests is a basic freedom that is constitutionally guaranteed. 

Finally, legislation that would bar permanent residents from making campaign contributions would result in significant consequences for many United States citizens. The discrimination that would arise from candidates and campaign workers enforcing such a ban would discourage citizens who look "foreign" or have "foreign" sounding names from fully participating in the political process for fear of being singled out, even if mistakenly so. 

The campaign finance reform debate last year devolved into an unfair and unwarranted attack on the right of lawful permanent residents and new citizens to participate in our country's political process. Help ensure that it does not happen again this year. We urge you to oppose any legislation that would impair the right of lawful permanent residents and new citizens to participate in the political process by making campaign contributions and expenditures.

Sincerely,

American-Arab Council (New York, NY)

American Civil Liberties Union 

Arab American Institute 

Asian American Coalition (Roswell, GA)

Asian American Federation of New York (New York, NY)

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (New York, NY)

Asian Americans for Equality (New York, NY)

Asian Law Alliance (San Jose, CA)

Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco, CA)

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance 

Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California

(Los Angeles, CA)

Assembly of Turkish American Associations 

Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law (New York, NY)

Carribean Women's Health Association (Brooklyn, NY)

Catholic Charities Immigrant Services (Honolulu, HI)

Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services (San Jose, CA)

Chinese for Affirmative Action (San Francisco, CA)

Community Refugee & Immigration Services (Columbus, OH)

DC Immigrant Coalition 

East Bay Citizenship Network (Oakland, CA)

Hermandad Mexican Nacional Legal Center (Chicago, IL)

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (Chicago, IL)

Immigration and Refugee Services of America (Washington, DC)

Immigration Law Project (St. Louis, MO)

India Abroad Center for Political Awareness 

Indian American Bar Association of Washington, DC

International Institute of New Jersey (Jersey City, NJ)

International Institute of Rhode Island (Providence, RI)

Korean American Coalition 

Korean Resource Center (Los Angeles, CA)

Korean Youth Center of New York (Flushing, NY)

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement 

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights (San Francisco Bay Area)

Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA)

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund 

Multi-Cultural Legal Center (Salt Lake City, UT)

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association 

National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium 

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials 

National Council for La Raza 

National Federation of Filipino American Associations 

National Italian American Foundation 

National Korean American Service and Education Consortium

New York Association for New Americans, Inc. (New York, NY)

Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights (San Francisco, CA)

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (Seattle, WA)

Organization of Chinese Americans 

Public Campaign 

Public Citizen 

Salt Lake Chapter Japanese American Citizens League (Salt Lake City, UT)

Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO 

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (Washington, DC)

VIVE La Casa (Buffalo, NY)

Washington Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice (Seattle, WA)

Wichita Indochinese Center, Inc. (Wichita, KS)

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