Members of the Dallas City Charter Review Commission have voted to accept an amendment allowing non-U.S. citizens to serve on city boards and commissions.

As previously reported by Texas Scorecard the amendment would change the language in each section of the city charter relating to the eligibility for serving on the boards. It would change the word “citizen” to “residents,” “people,” or “persons.”

The Dallas Express reported on modifications made to the amendment during the commission’s April 2 meeting.

“The way agenda item J, amendment 1 is currently written … I would be proud to put my name on it, and I would be proud to tell the public I support this,” said commission member David de la Fuente, who represents District 1. “That being said, I don’t think the public is going to go for it the way it is written.”

Instead, de la Fuente suggested that the change in wording to “people” or “persons” in the charter be applied to only some sections where it would make sense. 

One example he brought to the table was the Fire Rescue Department, saying the “Fire Rescue has to take all necessary measures to protect the City and the property of its now ‘residents’ as opposed to ‘citizens’ from destruction by fire or conflagration.” He added that it makes more sense to use “resident” instead of “citizen,” as firemen would not ask for “people’s citizenship status as their house is burning down.”

Other examples he cited included sections of the city charter on “organization of civil service” and “citizens given preference in letting of contracts.”

“In these areas where it is a little bit more of a privilege than a right to serve on these boards or commissions, maybe language along the lines of ‘citizens and authorized residents of the United States who are residents of Dallas,’” explained de la Fuente.

The commissioner also added that the problem he’s trying to solve is not a political, policy, or legal problem but rather saying the “median voter… in Dallas right now is one that views citizens and authorized residents as worthy of service on civil service [sic] and in preference of letting of contracts.”

“An authorized resident in the United States would be a non-citizen who has legal and lawful protections in entry into this country. So, think of a green card holder, think of someone with a work visa, think of someone with DACA protections,” he added.

After much discussion, the motion as amended by de la Fuente was approved by the commission. 

The Dallas City Council will now decide whether to place the amendment on the ballot for voters to approve or disapprove. 

Dallas voters rejected a similar proposal in May 2021 by a 2-1 margin.

Election Day is November 5, 2024.

Texas Scorecard reached out to the City of Dallas but did not receive a response by publication. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.