For Immediate Release:

January 24, 2017


Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987

Bills provide equitable access to education, elections for D.C. immigrants

Washington, D.C. – As the national political climate becomes more divisive, Councilmember David Grosso today re-introduced two bills that promote the inclusion of our immigrant communities in our city’s educational and electoral institutions.

“D.C. welcomes and embraces the diversity that has made America great for centuries,” Grosso said. “Regardless of what language they speak, regardless of where they were born, immigrants are an integral part of our neighborhoods. We must therefore ensure that they have every opportunity to fully participate.”

The Language Access for Education Amendment Act of 2017 strengthens existing law by increasing the standards of the Language Access Act for government services for all non-English proficient residents.

The bill requires that each public school and public charter school provide translations of essential educational information, such as data relating to a student's well-being and educational progress.

“As chairperson of the Committee on Education, I know that having parents who are actively involved in the education of their child is critical to their success,” Grosso said. “Putting students in the best position to succeed means ensuring that information is made available to their parents in the language they speak.”

The bill also requires that each public and public charter school with a 5 percent or more non-English proficient population, must designate a culturally competent language access liaison at each school and designate a language access coordinator for each local education agency. 

The second bill, the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2017, would grant voting rights in local municipal elections to D.C. residents who are not U.S. citizens but have permanent residency status.

“’All politics is local’ is a common phrase in the U.S. political system and what most District residents care about are the tangible things that affect their day-to-day lives like education, potholes, playgrounds, taxes, snow removal, trash collection, red light cameras and more,” Grosso said. “Everyone deserves a voice in their government. We cannot perpetuate the same injustice in our own city that is imposed upon us by the federal government each day.”

Currently, there are seven jurisdictions where non-citizens can vote in local elections in the U.S., six of which are in neighboring Maryland. None of these cities or towns has experienced incidents of voting fraud with regard to non-citizens voting in federal elections. 

Both bills have been introduced in previous council periods and have received hearings. Under Council rules no additional hearings will be necessary for committees to act on the legislation.