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Supremes Bar Up To 600,000 Likely Immigration Supporters From Voting. By Roger Algase

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
This post has been revised as of 9:48 am, October 19:

In my October 10 post, I discussed a decision by a federal judge in Texas striking down that state's voter ID law after a full trial. Based on the unrebutted evidence at the trial, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos determined that the law, among other things, constituted a poll tax which was intended to disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters. She also found that anti-immigrant prejudice was one of the tactics used in order to pass the law, if not one of the main motives for its passage. She also determined that the law could disenfranchise as many as 600,000 minority US citizens, a large majority of whom, it is safe to assume, would vote in favor of pro-immigration candidates if they were allowed to exercise their constitutional right to the franchise.

Obviously, non-US citizens do not have the right to vote in state and federal elections, and there are few if any reported instances of this being attempted, despite claims by the law's supporters that voter ID was needed in order to stop immigrants who are not US citizens from voting illegally. The trial showed only one such example in Texas: this involved a Norwegian citizen, not a Latino. According to Judge Gonzales-Ramos' 147-page decision, even this one instance was based on a misunderstanding caused by the negligence of Texas voting officials, who mailed the Norwegian citizen a ballot anyway, even though he had truthfully stated that he was not an American citizen.

As I suggested in my previous post, voting rights and immigrant rights are joined at the hip. If American citizens coming from Hispanic and other immigrant communities are prevented from voting, we can just as well strike the phrase "immigration reform" from our vocabulary and move on to other topics, such as how many more people will be deported this year, how much the rfe/denial rate for legal employment or family-based petitions will continue to increase, or how many more years or decades it will take for millions of people to receive green cards in our backlogged visa system.

Therefore, it is a matter of grave concern to the cause of immigration and immigrant rights that the US Supreme Court, on October 18, refused to vacate a stay which had been granted by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of the District Court's order granting a permanent injunction against enforcing the discriminatory Texas voter ID law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a ringing dissent for which she will no doubt be remembered for many years to come, concluded her opinion by writing:

"The gravest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters."


Justice Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The case is Veasey v. Perry, 574 U.S.___(2014).
_____________________________
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been serving employment-based and family-based immigrants from many parts of the world for more than 30 years. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 10-20-2014 at 07:48 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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Comments

  1. Retired INS's Avatar
    I was involved in the arrest of thousands of illegal aliens and only encountered evidence of illegal voting in two or three cases. However, illegal voting does come from legal residents for two reasons: (1) 18 year old high school boys are sometimes taken by their school to register for the draft (this does affect immigrant boys) and to register to vote. When the resident alien boys protest, they are often told they are eligible (by teachers who don't know any better); (2) legal resident wives of patriotic American citizens are often taken to voter registration because the husbands don't realize the wife is not a citizen. The wives protest but sometimes they register just to satisfy the husband. Contrary to popular belief, illegal voting is just as likely to be for Republicans as it is for Democrats. The husbands taking their wives to register are often Republicans and have the wife register as a Republican. Voting by illegal aliens is extremely rare.

    Having said this, I see nothing wrong with asking for ID to vote. Most citizens carry ID, even if it is just to cash their welfare check or to purchase liquor. I lived in Texas and saw many cases where more votes were cast I rural counties than could have reasonably happened without voter fraud. South Texas was long known as a place where extra votes could be manufactured. If it is racist to ask for an ID to vote, why is not racist to ask for ID to get into a federal building? The illegal aliens who came to immigration all managed to come up with some type of ID to get into our building. Surely, citizens who want to vote should be able to come up with ID.
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    RetiredINS makes a constructive comment by pointing out that illegal voting by people who are not US citizens, which was one of the pretexts used by supporters of the Texas Voter ID law in order to enact this restrictive and discriminatory measure, is extremely rare.

    But his last sentence, namely that it should not be difficult for people who are genuine voters to obtain an ID, overlooks the overwhelming evidence of discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos which was developed in this case after a full trial and described at length in the District Court's 147 page opinion.

    It would be interesting if RetiredINS actually cared to read the District Court's opinion and to share with the rest of us exactly which of the many findings of fact that Judge Gonzales Ramos made in the case showing discrimination against minority voters were mistaken (in RetiredINS's view).

    The District Judge also pointed out certain irrationalities in the law. For example, both concealed gun ID's and drivers licenses are acceptable as voter ID under the Texas law, but they can be legally obtained by LPS's and other legal visa holders, who are not allowed to vote, just as easily as by US citizens. Therefore, the only purpose they serve is to impose additional costs and inconvenience on minority US citizens seeking to vote, as the District Court described at great length and great detail in its opinion. That is the essence of an unconstitutional poll tax.

    Neither the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court majority have in any way challenged the District Court's findings of fact. Their only reason for allowing the law to go froward is that it is "too close to the election" to change it now.

    What an absurd argument. Suppose that Texas had passed a law requiring documentary proof of 100 per cent white ancestry in order to vote. Would the Circuit Court or Supreme Court have allowed such a law to go forward just because an election was about to take place?

    Nor have the Texas law's supporters explained why a concealed gun permit, which is more likely to be obtained by Republican leaning gun rights supporters, is acceptable ID, while college photo ID's, which are more likely to be issued to younger, Democratic-leaning voters, are not acceptable in order to vote under this law.

    This case also emphasizes exactly how destructive the Supreme Court's decision throwing out the federal pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act has turned out to be.

    As the District Judge found in her opinion, Texas, with its long history of racial discrimination in voting, would never have been able to obtain federal pre-clearance for this overtly racially discriminatory law.

    As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, up to 600,000 mainly minority US citizens will be denied their constitutional right to vote under this law. This amounts to more than 4 per cent of the voters in the entire state. It is not enough to say that photo ID is needed in order to enter a federal building in order to justify this attempt to legalize racial discrimination in Texas.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 10-21-2014 at 02:38 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. Retired INS's Avatar
    It is true that the stupid Republicans ( I usually vote Republican) tried to justify ID for voting because of their belief that illegal aliens vote in large numbers. I, however, favor the use of voter ID because I believe some people are paid to vote for dead voters. This certainly happened in South Texas and Chicago.

    You failed to mention that aliens are permitted to vote in non-federal elections in Cook County, Illinois. Unless these alien voters have an ID, how do voting officials know who to give the special ballots to (those without Members of Congress, Senators, or the President on the ballot)?
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I voted for John F. Kennedy for president in the first presidential election that I was old enough to vote in.

    As everyone knows, it was an extremely close election, which was ultimately determined by voters in Chicago. I would like to think that at least some of them were living, enough at least to have saved the country from Nixon (until eight years later, that is).

    Roger Algase
  5. Retired INS's Avatar
    Nixon is the only Republican Presidential candidate I didn't vote for. I agree he lacked integrity. My Eagle Scout card was signed by President Kennedy, something I am proud of. However, good lucky believing the election of 1960 was decided on 100% legitimate voters.
  6. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    One would have to agree that the 1960 election was in all likelihood decided from beyond the grave.

    JFK and Obama resemble each other in that each talked a good game while not doing very much about the great civil rights issues of their times - ending legal discrimination against black US citizens in JFK's time, and ending the legal persecution and mass expulsion of Latino and other minority immigrants in BHO's time.

    As we all know, it was left to LBJ, originally a segregationist, to push through the great civil rights reforms of the 1960's. Which future president will do the same for non-while immigrants in the present era? I have no doubt that there will be such a president before long.

    Of course, there will always be opposition to racial justice and equality in America. In the cicil rights era, we had the while citizens councils. Today, we have the Tea Party.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 10-22-2014 at 06:47 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  7. Retired INS's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    One would have to agree that the 1960 election was in all likelihood decided from beyond the grave.

    JFK and Obama resemble each other in that each talked a good game while not doing very much about the great civil rights issues of their times - ending legal discrimination against black US citizens in JFK's time, and ending the legal persecution and mass expulsion of Latino immigrants in BHO's time.

    As we all know, it was left to LBJ, originally a segregationist, to push through the great civil rights reforms of the 1960's. Which future president will do the same for non-while immigrants in the present era? I have no doubt that there will be such a president before long.

    Of course, there will always be opposition to racial justice and equality in America. In the cicil rights era, we had the while citizens councils. Today, we have the Tea Party.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    I agree that Tom Tancredo and Lamar Smith are bigots who hate Hispanics. I would not put Ted Cruz in that category, although I don't agree with him. I actually like Sarah Palin. The TEA Party is not racist, just misinformed on immigration issues. What has President Obama done for Hispanics when he had the opportunity. Many Democrats are only interested in Hispanic votes, not their well being.
  8. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I think there may be some justification for the last sentence in the above comment by RetiredINS. But on the whole, the Democrats to date have shown much more openness toward the Latino communities on immigration matters than the Republicans.

    Even Laura Ingraham, a right wing Republican who is no friend of immigration reform, has reportedly called on her party to reconsider its hostility toward Hispanics.

    This does not mean that every Republican is hostile to the interests of Hispanic and other immigrant communities, or that every Democrat is supportive.

    But in general, Republicans have been far more hostile to minorities than Democrats over the past two or three decades, and the Texas voter ID case is the rule, rather than the exception. The effect of this law, and similar ones in other Republican states, could be devastating for immigration policy because it could prevent pro-immigrant candidates from being elected in many parts if the US.

    There is no point in pretending that this is not one of the main purposes of these laws.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 10-22-2014 at 04:58 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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