- United States
In the ongoing immigration issue in the United States, another trend has found its way into the state administrations. The state of Texas has decided to follow the footprints of Florida in using federal immigration database to filter the voter rolls from fraudulently registered undocumented immigrants.
Esperanza ‘Hope’ Andrade, the Texas secretary of the state, has sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requesting them to allow the State access to the federal immigration database program called ‘Systematic Alien Verification Entitlement’ program.
The database, which contains almost a 100 million immigration records, is to be used by the Texas state administration for purging the non-citizen voters from the list of registered voters. Florida, under Republican Governor Rick Scott, had won the privileges of using the system last week, after going through a long dispute with the DHS in court.
Rick Parsons, communication director for Andrade, said that due to the current law that requires immigrants to identify themselves as undocumented ‘voluntarily’, it is quite a challenge for the Stare administration to pin point undocumented immigrants in registered voter lists. To rely on the present rule would be impractical.
“Texas plans to start using the DHS database as soon as possible but does not have a timeline and cannot say if it will begin the checks before the November elections,” said Parsons.
The decision of the state has been gathering much support from the people who think that such measures might assist the administration of the state to ensure proper and valid voting in the elections.
On the other hand, the decision also received its share of criticism from the public. Texas Director of ‘Mi Familia Vota’, an advocacy organization, Carlos Duarte has expressed criticism on this initiative. He said that so much effort is being made to fight something that doesn’t even exist.
“We think this will address a problem that doesn’t really exist and will create confusion about a supposed or alleged fraud that – if it happens at all – is so miniscule that it has no impact,” said Duarte. He also said that such initiatives so near to the election are bound to disenfranchise people who otherwise would be eligible to vote.
Rebecca Acuna, a Texas Democratic Party spokesperson, said that this was just another step by the Republicans to achieve something that isn’t really there. “The State of Texas just had a full federal trial trying to prove that illegal voting exists, and they can’t make their case,” she said.
While defending the States initiatives, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said that the federal government prosecuted more than 100 defendants from different election fraud cases since 2002.
Parson said that the task of using the database is not as easy as mashing up the voter list with the program to determine anything. He said that the database will be used on case-by-case basis, only for those whose citizenship is questionable.
In contrast to the efforts of all these states striving to marginalize the number of voters, Washington is planning on making the voting process much easier for the voters. Although a number of states are using online registration methods to facilitate voters, the administration in Washington is planning on providing eligible citizens the possibility to register their votes through Facebook. This initiative will be the first of its kind, among all the states in the country.
Tags: Carlos Duarte, Department of Homeland Security, Esperanza ‘Hope’ Andrade, Greg Abbott, Immigration, Mi Familia Vota, Rebecca Acuna, Rick Parsons, Rick Scott, Systematic Alien Verification Entitlement, Texas, Texas Democratic Party, United States, USA immigration