President Obama's hoping to secure votes from illegal immigrants by fighting an Arizona law that requires proof of citizenship at the polls, says Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.
The Obama Administration filed an amicus brief on Friday with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in preparation for more hearings on a legal challenge to the voter-approved law. The government's lawyers argue that the voter-approved Proposition 200 from 2004 illegally pre-empts federal law on voting requirements. Since the law went into effect, Arizona has required proof of citizenship for those registering to vote or voting.
This isn't mere political pandering from the president, Horne says -- Obama wants to tap illegal immigrants directly as an extra base of voters.
If that's the president's strategy, though, it's going to also require plenty of Univision ads. Even critics can't support the idea that illegal immigrants have ever voted in significant numbers.
In its brief, the Obama Administration essentially argues that streamlined registration laws are there to ensure the largest possible number of eligible voters find no barriers to fulfilling their civic duty. Federal law says states "shall accept" federal registration forms, and that Arizona -- nor any other state -- has the right to design additional hoops for potential voters to jump through.
People who register to vote already must declare under penalty of perjury that they're eligible, but it's an on-your-honor system. Horne doesn't like that. But he doesn't believe law-breaking immigrants are the main problem. Rather, the potential to cause havoc in elections is more likely to be caused by representatives of groups like the now-defunct ACORN, who "pay people four dollars a head to register people," Horne says.
Whether or not there was ever an actual problem, Arizona Republican leaders can always say they're just protecting the will of Arizona voters by fighting this case vigorously. As the state's new lawsuit against the voter-approved medical-marijuana law proves, however, Horne and Governor Jan Brewer only respect voters if there's a political upside.
The politics on this one are obvious: More fear-mongering on the backs of illegals. You know -- the same kind that propelled Proposition 200 to victory.
Now, it's obvious that an illegal immigrant can't vote legally under current laws, and arguably, shouldn't be able to vote. Citizenship would mean nothing if anyone could vote -- foreigners would dictate U.S. policy, the world as we know it would end, etc. Sure, we get it.
But the anti-Prop-200 lawsuit isn't about getting non-citizens to vote, says Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for one of the plaintiffs in the anti-Prop-200 lawsuit, MALDEF. It's about the thousands of eligible voters whose registration applications were rejected by Arizona voting officials because they couldn't prove they were citizens.
In one period examined by lawyers from 2005 to 2006, Perales explains, the plaintiffs discovered that "thousands" of applications for voting registration by naturalized citizens had been unfairly rejected because the state could not verify the immigrants' status.
(Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Yvonne Reed, however, insists that the county "has not turned away tons of people" because of the Prop 200 law.)
While some (maybe a lot) of voters have been disenfranchised, the state never has presented a single example of a person who intentionally registered to vote while knowing he or she was ineligible, she says.
Looking at the overall picture, Perales says, it's clear that the statement put out by Horne today (below) about Obama wanting to let illegal immigrants vote "was overblown and simply dishonest."
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Of course, she won't be satisfied until the will of voters is thoroughly thwarted so we'll take her statements with a pinch of salt, as well.
Horne's statement follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 7, 2011
For more information, contact Amy Rezzonico (602) 542-8019
Horne Blasts Obama Administration for Pushing for Illegals to Vote
PHOENIX (Tuesday, June 7, 2011) -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
today blasted the Obama Administration for filing a late amicus brief in
the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that would push for the ability
for illegal immigrants to vote.
In the Gonzalez v State case, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit
ruled that Arizona could not require persons registering to vote to
provide proof of citizenship. The Ninth Circuit has granted en banc
review and Attorney General Horne will personally be arguing the case
before an eleven-judge panel on June 21, 2011. Late Friday afternoon,
the Obama Administration filed a late, eleventh-hour amicus brief
arguing that Arizona should not be able to request information to check
if applicants wanting to vote are citizens.
Horne stated: "First, the Obama Administration fails to do its job
on the border. Then it sues Arizona to prevent us from helping to fight
illegal immigration. Then it tries to create a false sense of
complacency by arguing that the border is safe, when it isn't. Now it
argues that persons should be able to register to vote without providing
adequate information enabling verification of citizenship, thus enabling
illegal aliens to register to vote. This is contrary to the interests
of the people of the United State of America."
Click herefor a text version of the Obama Administration amicus brief.