ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – The Santa Ana City Council is once again considering a measure that would allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections.

During public comment at Tuesday night’s Santa Ana city council meeting, impassioned remarks took center stage over the proposed idea.

Proponents argue that the city’s large noncitizen community, including those who are in the country illegally, should have a say in local affairs since they often pay taxes and contribute to the economy.

“I do believe that noncitizen voting in local elections is about increasing civic engagement,” Councilmember Jonathan Hernandez told KTLA. “Taxation without representation is a value that America holds dear. So we want to advance those rights. I believe that non-citizen voting is a step in the right direction.”

In a city where nearly one-fourth of its residents are not U.S. citizens but who often work and pay taxes, Hernandez argues they should. Santa Ana has been a sanctuary city for undocumented residents since 2016.

Others, however, disagree with the idea, believing voting should only be open to citizens.

“If we start allowing noncitizens to vote, even if they’re here legally, we dilute the value of being an American citizen,” said Monica, a local resident.

“I came here legally as a naturalized citizen,” said an O.C. resident identified only as GD. “I had to wait five years and I took the oath for this country. I swore an allegiance to this country, to the Constitution and to the laws. I believe the citizens should be the ones to have the right and the privilege to vote.”

Some who attended the meeting criticized those who were against the measure.

“I love when we have extreme right-wing folks show up to tell you what you shouldn’t do because throughout history we have always had those folks denying the right to vote to many people of color,” said Carlos Perea, a Santa Ana resident.

Santa Ana isn’t the first city to consider this contentious issue, which has a mixed track record nationwide.

A similar measure that was approved by New York City was later struck down by the state Supreme Court.

Some states, including Ohio, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota and North Dakota have banned noncitizen voting outright.

In San Francisco, a judge struck down a law that allowed noncitizens to vote in school board elections after opponents argued that it diluted their vote and violated the California State Constitution. An appeals court recently reversed the judge’s decision, which prompted Santa Ana to move forward with its own proposal.

No formal action was taken following Tuesday night’s city council meeting, but if the measure gains momentum and is approved in the future, it will be presented as a bill for Santa Ana residents to vote on.