The Missouri Immigration Policy Coalition (MIPC) opposes HJR43. MIPC is a statewide nonpartisan network of immigrant advocates and organizations who work to advance immigrant rights. MIPC members include: Revolución Educativa, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri Faith Voices, Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation, Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, Immigrant Home English Learning Program (IHELP), Saint Louis University Center for Social Action, LifeWise STL, Jewish Community Relations Council and ACLU-MO. The fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person, regardless of immigration status.
Background: Since 1907, Missourians have made their voices heard through the initiative petition process. For more than a century, access to the initiative petition process has allowed for voter engagement on a range of issues. Missourians across the political spectrum have benefitted from the initiative petition process; it is an opportunity to directly participate in our democracy. A non-exhaustive list of benefits of the initiative petition process are that it promotes civic engagement and accountability towards the government. We should be encouraging democratic participation, not erecting undue barriers.
Concerns with HJR43:
This resolution makes it harder for measures to be placed on the ballot and raises the passage threshold from a simple majority to 60% – a supermajority. Measures passed by a majority – as is currently the case – reflect the will of the people. This resolution undermines the will of the people. This would effectively exclude all but the most well-funded efforts from participation.
HJR43 sets a racist dog whistle definition of a legal voter to “only” U.S. Citizens. This harmful political rhetoric is used to stoke hate toward immigrants. Deliberately including misleading language in ballot measures continues to be a barrier to true voter representation. Citizenship is of course already a requirement to be eligible to vote, and Missouri’s Constitution properly reflects the right to vote for “all” of Missouri’s citizens, reflecting the fundamental value we place on the right to vote for all our state’s citizens. It should remain so. This changes the nature of the right to vote. This shift in language further weakens our constitutional right to vote. Any threshold and condition that is placed on the right to vote, only opens the doors for more conditions to be put into place. This is a dangerous move on the right to vote overall. Legislators have the duty to prove it is necessary to advance the integrity of the election. This language of “only” U.S. Citizens places a burden on voters to prove conditions are unconstitutional, arguably an undue burden. The right to vote should not be a conditional right but guaranteed.
We support laws and policies that keep human dignity first, demonstrate an understanding of the root causes of migration, and seek to end discrimination against immigrants. We know democracy only functions with robust citizen participation for all of Missouri’s citizens. Missourians deserve nothing less. HJR43 is an effort to make direct democracy more difficult – the citizenship language stands to weaken the protection of our right to vote in our constitution. We demand the Missouri legislature prioritize humane policies.

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