There are several things the public can count on each election season—a deluge of non-stop political advertising, daily tracking polls, and now to an increasing degree, false claims about immigrants by politicians looking for a cheap way to score political points.
The first example comes from Kansas where anti-immigrant zealot Kris Kobach (running for Secretary of State) is claiming that non-citizens are fraudulently voting en masse on election day. The charge is so ludicrous that he has not presented any evidence to support the claim. This red-herring of non-citizen voting is so flimsy that both conservative and liberal groups have responded to the myth. An October 18, 2010, story in the National Journal points out that “a five-year investigation by the Bush Justice Department…turned up virtually no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” And the Brennan Center for Justice noted in their 2006 report on voter fraud that “one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to come across an actual case of voter fraud.” Yet some self-serving political candidates, like Kobach, continue to perpetuate this myth for their own electoral gain.
The next example came yesterday when a group of state legislators announced their intention to pass state-based legislation that would challenge birthright citizenship currently protected in the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Kobach has a hand in this one, too.) This is the latest attempt to introduce bills that would deny U.S. citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. without authorization or on temporary visas. The Center for New Community profiles the legislators behind this movement to repeal birthright citizenship and their anti-immigrant connections in a recent blog post.
The bottom line is that immigrants are not risking deportation just so they can vote, nor will ending birthright citizenship stop unauthorized immigration. These ridiculous claims show the short-sightedness and divisiveness of those who repeat them. This type of fear-mongering is just the opposite of what we want and need in our elected leaders. Immigration is a complicated issue, in need of cool and rational minds. Let’s hope America elects some.
Photo by Kevin H.