New York Lawmakers Propose ‘State Citizenship’ for the Undocumented

By Julianne Hing Jun 17, 2014

Congress is as yet unable to muster the will to face immigration reform. So New York state lawmakers are mulling an alternative. The New York Is Home Act would grant some rights and responsibilities of citizenship to some undocumented immigrants who’ve paid state taxes for at least three years, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Eidelson reports:

It would grant state citizenship to some noncitizen immigrants, including undocumented residents, allowing them to vote and run for office. Under the New York Is Home Act, noncitizen residents who have proof of identity and have lived and paid taxes in the state for three years could apply for legal status that would let some qualify for Medicaid coverage, professional licensing, tuition assistance, and driver’s licenses, as well as state and local–but not federal–voting rights. The responsibilities of citizenship would also apply, including jury duty.

The bill, an admitted long shot, could be vulnerable to legal challenge because its language borrows the term "citizen," typically the exclusive purview of the federal government.

Notably, the notion of state citizenship only goes so far. States can’t guarantee protection from deportation.