Archive for the ‘voter’ Category

ZILLAMOD -This is the god’s to honest truth. At the end of the day – it’s not a partisan matter. It’s a family matter. You use whatever you have to protect your family from harm. I am the same. This is my story as well.

This is a repost by Linda Vega.

Being an American citizen is one of the most powerful manifestations of our constitutional tradition as a nation and as a government. These constitutional rights and obligations reserved strictly for citizens have made man want to die to protect our nation, because they know that as citizens they have unalienable rights. However, the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama Administration is now stripping American citizens of their citizenship. More importantly, these attacks on a population where American citizens are being denied their constitutional rights are mainly aimed at a group: elder Latino Texans who were too poor to go to a county hospital and opted, instead, to use a midwife because there was no hospital in the poor rural areas of Texas. As a result, the Obama Administration is now incarcerating and stripping some seniors of their citizenship because they are unable to “properly” prove their birth occurred on U.S. soil.

According to immigration attorney Jaime Diez, along the Rio Grande River in Texas, there are cases where Elderly Latinos have to relinquish their U.S. Citizenship because they cannot provide enough evidence to substantiate their birth on U.S. soil by either a hospital or a credible midwife.

Prior to 2009, a few cases of maybe 20-30 would arise where elderly Latinos had to produce evidence of their U.S. Citizenship. Usually a baptismal record or a birth certificate would suffice to prove their U.S. citizenship birth. However, under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, (“WHTI”), which came into full force and effect on June 1, 2009, changes implemented under this new law, have caused overzealous U.S. agents and officers to litigate case after case that seeks to strip U.S. Citizenship from Latinos that now number over 1000.

With only limited exceptions, WHTI makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to “depart from or enter the United States” without a valid U.S. passport. 8 U.S.C. §1185(b); 22 C.F.R. §53.1(a). While this may be a necessary application of law, for a group of people who did not have the conveniences of modern day hospitals or record keeping when they were born, it has become a nightmare and a loss of identity.

Long before there was a dispute regarding the demarcated boundary that separates the U.S. and Mexico, descendants of Mexicans lived along the border on the U.S. side for years without fear of having to leave their country of choice. When Texas became the 28th state under the Presidency of Polk in 1845, those who lived along the border were annexed into the U.S.

Additionally, when the two countries were unwilling to reach a compromise as to where the boundary would be set, the Mexican-American war broke out on April 25, 1846. The result of that war fixed the southern boundary between the two countries at the Rio Grande River. For generations, the people living along the Rio Grande River into Mexico where their relatives were left in their undisturbed Mexican residency and those in the U.S. were granted U.S. Citizenship. It was a matter of convenience and understanding that those U.S. Citizens who were instantly acquiesced into the U.S. territory had travel privileges back and forth between the two countries. In the years that followed, children were born through midwives and clinics who would record the births as credible state records. In 1925, more than 50 percent of babies born in Texas were delivered by midwives. However, by 2004, the number had dropped to 6.6%. Much of the change was brought about because as rural areas integrated more clinics into the area, many along the border were receiving more prenatal care and healthcare during births.

The earliest known hospital in the valley was in Harlingen, Valley Baptist medical Center, founded in 1925. Surrounded by rural areas and colonias, the hospital is at least a 25 mile distance to these areas. At present, it is not uncommon for women to give birth to children in clinics or hospitals as these facilities are not as scarce as previous years prior to 1950. The births were not the problem, it was an industry norm for registering births that had unintended consequences on what the government is now terming, “delayed birth certificate” fraud.

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), many of these births recorded by midwives are either fraudulent or not legal as they were not recorded according to standards. Those affected by this new application of law, now find themselves having to defend their birth certificate and passports granted to them by the U.S. State Department.

Additionally, those affected are between the ages of 60 and older born in the 1940-50s. This is the age group that is most affected as they were more likely to be born by the assistance of a midwife and at home.

While Texas is approximately 25 million in total, it is populated by a large Latino community in the rural areas, and in South Texas where about 90% of the total population is Latino.

Texas and South Texas Population by Ethnicity, 2007

When broken down into the counties most affected by the passport requirement see the following:

Consequently, immigration attorneys in the Rio Grande Valley have noticed that these cases requiring elderly Latinos to prove their citizenship has spiked within the last two years. Attorney Jaime Diez argues that over 1000 cases have been reported but many more are not for the sake of keeping the peace. However, these are only the cases of those with financial resources to fight DHS, or USCIS in court; but many more surrender their citizenship fearing a long battle in a court that is estimated to cost between $15,000 to $20,000. Many of the elderly, living on a fixed income cannot imagine this long battle or the expense, and instead relinquish their U.S. Citizenship and leave for Mexico, a land not their home.

Immigration Attorneys, like Jaime Diez, in the Rio Grande Valley accept the cases on a pro bono capacity, but have been overwhelmed recently with unnecessary discovery requests by the government and oftentimes face over 5 U.S. attorneys for a simple case of birth certificate verification. In one such case, Jaime Diez in Brownsville. States that five U.S. Attorneys were flown in from Washington D.C. to appear in Federal District Court to ask women questions regarding her childhood in the valley. The U.S. Attorneys asked to be taken to the many places the woman played as a child and other places where she and her brother remembered family gatherings. This was not only inefficient use of government money and resources, it provided little if any comfort thinking that securing the border means stripping Latinos of their U.S. Citizenship rather than apprehending those who are “terrorists” in all aspects at the border crossing.

In 2008, Obama promised Latinos change. Unfortunately, one of these promised changes includes having to lose your birthright identity because you were born at a time when a system was inefficient and antiquated. According to the present Obama policies, if you were born in 1950 and beyond, you are expendable in the U.S. Your absence, along the Rio Grande Valley where you have lived most of your life, will be overlooked. According to this Administration, Latinos have an apathy and will not participate in elections, and so invalid deportations and stripping on U.S. Citizenship will go unnoticed because no one will dare to speak up to this injustice. It is a quiet secret that many will chose to ignore. But Latinos are strong in family ideals and are compassionate protectors for the less fortunate. And now that many do know about what is happening to the elderly along the border, I hope that this Administration is placed on alert to immediately cease and desist this action. It is a shameful way to protect the border, and frankly this behavior is anything but American or decent, it is Mr. President, monstrous.

Guest’s anti-Real ID bill passes House

c/o Jefferson City Press

by Alyson E. Raletz
Monday, April 20, 2009

A King City legislator last week began to see major opposition to his crusade against the Federal Real ID Act of 2005, but he still clinched support from the Missouri House of Representatives.

The House on Thursday, in a 83-69 vote, endorsed HB 361, which would keep the Missouri Department of Revenue from selling off driver’s license information to outside parties. The bill also in a less direct way rejects Real ID, an effort from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to streamline identification requirements among the states to prevent immigration fraud.

Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, leads a national coalition of lawmakers who argue that Real ID is a movement toward a national driver’s license, the federal government will abuse the information and that it will open up the country to identity theft.

The bill prohibits the Department of Revenue from changing any of its procedures to comply with Real ID, a much stronger stance than the resolution approved by prior Missouri legislatures that simply called on Congress to repeal the act.

Opponents this year have gained in numbers, saying that Missourians will need access to Real IDs, which the federal government will require for citizens to board airplanes or enter certain federal buildings.

“It seems to me a senseless, huge inconvenience on our citizens,” Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said during floor debate. “There’s no reason to overreact right now.”

Countered Mr. Guest, “Homeland Security says it’s not a national ID, but they know it’s false.”

In the end, Mr. Guest was successful and the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

Local representatives voting “yes” were Republicans Mike Thomson of Maryville, Jason Brown of Platte City, Dr. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, Mr. Guest and Mike Lair of Chillicothe.

Voting “no” were St. Joseph Democrats Ed Wildberger and Martin Rucker, and a Bethany Republican, Casey Guernsey.

Long schools bill

to grow even more

Legislation that started out as an avenue to expand virtual classrooms and then snowballed into an omnibus education bill may pick up some more layers.

The bill from Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, also addresses a technical glitch with the Proposition A gaming money, enrollment for foster children, charter schools, school capital improvements and teacher performance, among other proposals.

The chairman of a House education committee that considered SB 291 last week said the group likely would take out some of the Senate provisions and add some of its own. With four weeks remaining in the legislative session, Rep. Maynard Wallace, R-Thornfield, opted to wait on a vote. Already passed in the Senate, the bill needs approval from the House before it can go to the governor’s desk.

“It’s too important of a bill to hurry,” Mr. Wallace said.

Nixon looks

to keep Blunt’s pick

for Western board

Gov. Jay Nixon re-appointed a former Platte County commissioner to the Missouri Western State University Board of Governors last week.

Former Gov. Matt Blunt in December had appointed Diza Eskridge, a 67-year-old Democrat from Weston, to the post, but her term was subject to confirmation from the Senate. Since the Senate didn’t convene until January, she served in that capacity, but her membership wasn’t official, according to the university.

When Mr. Nixon became governor, as is a tradition of most governors, he withdrew all of the unconfirmed nominations from the prior administration so he could consider them himself. Mr. Nixon last week announced he decided to stick with Ms. Eskridge.

The board sets university rules, bylaws and regulations. Ms. Eskridge also has served on the Mid-America Regional Council’s board of directors. Her term, which is subject to Senate confirmation, would end Oct. 29, 2014.

Alyson E. Raletz covers the state Legislature for the News-Press in Jefferson City. She can be reached at alysonraletz@npgco.com or (573) 636-2307.

AUSTIN BTC Commentary :

With most or all of the Texas Legislative spotlight on voter ID, the federal Real ID is in a dangerous position to quietly poison the remainder of the days. While Texas is abiding ever so gracefully with the federal extension to find their way to compliance, DHS is erecting cameras throughout the state. It was only a matter of time before someone pointed out that RFID readers are popping up past the border into Southern Texas, complete with radio promotion propaganda.

A subject raised among Texas activist support groups comprised of civil libertarians, anti- border wall advocates and environmentalists gave rise to a question – how did this wall, complete with expensive surveillance technologies, crop up without due process and public input? Border surveillance compounds with renewed models of the fence are now up for decision making bids. Duncan Hunter’s Real ID rider now is the shadowy facilitator creeping around the edges of the fence issue posing as placebo immigration reform.

One question keeps prompting our alert signals: where is the money coming from to do all of this?

While the State of Texas may not have the money and the cities lining the borders even less, it hasn’t stopped the DHS from muscling in with voluntary-compulsory mandates on towns to “do this or else” at the expense of cities without notifying the public for input or for budgetary accountability. We checked in with Scott Nicols of No Border Wall Coalition to compare notes as to how I, a blogger in Austin, could wake up and find 10 red light cameras up and down the Guadalupe drag without so much as a notice from the City. Apparently, the DHS feds can give the City an I.O.U. do-it-now-or-else ultimatum. Sometimes they pay them back. In these border towns, often they are left holding the budgetary bag.

Now people are sending me pictures of RFID readers going up at the borders and complaining of radio campaigns to “get you home” to goose public support of … Enhanced Drivers Licenses?

Why do we need RFID readers anyway? Well, so they can read RFID tags, some in your car and perhaps in your license. While I have been told by border Senator Shapleigh’s office that they will stop the push for the Enhanced Drivers Licenses. There were murmurs that the stimulus bill held the federal monetizing power to greenlight Real IDs in Texas at Thursday’s TxDOT meeting. All this so Texans can fist bump their way to “coolness” with their toll tags and their dandy surveilled identity cards? “Wow, check out my new government mandated ear tattoo, they branded my left thigh as well!!” – I’m being facetious. This is modern propaganda.

IN OTHER NEWS

EPIC – On the Dangers of Fusion Centers or Public Data Aggregates

By Renee Feltz
From the October 3, 2008 issue 
PHOTO: STOKELY BAKSH

VOTER SHUTOUT
97-year-old Shirley Preiss has voted in every election since 1932, but cannot register to vote in Arizona because she lacks proof of her citizenship. She was born in Kentucky before the state issued birth certificates and says she’s never left the country, so she does not have a passport. Arizona is one of eight states that require voters to prove U.S. citizenship.
PHOENIX—While both presidential candidates avoid discussing immigration reform, Republican pundits are stirring up concern about non-citizens throwing the election.

“The evidence is indisputable that aliens, both legal and illegal, are registering and voting in federal, state, and local elections,” wrote Hans A. von Spakovsky in June in a widely circulated “legal memorandum” entitled “The Threat of Non-Citizen Voting.”

Von Spakovsky is a former Bush recess appointee to the U.S. Department of Justice, where as counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights, he specialized in voting and election issues. After the Senate blocked his reappointment citing his involvement in “efforts to politicize the Department and use the Voting Rights Section to disenfranchise voters, rather than enforce our nation’s civil rights laws,” he served as a member of the Federal Election Commission for two years.

Now with the Heritage Foundation, a leading right-wing think tank, von Spakovsky argues the “honor system” of signing a legally binding registration card fails to keep non-citizens from the polls, and suggests election officials should be allowed to access U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement databases “regarding voter eligibility based on citizenship.” He also wants all states to require anyone who registers to vote to provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

Citizenship is already a legal requirement to vote in the United States, but GOP scare tactics have led more than a dozen states to consider additional legislation to require documented proof of citizenship, and in many cases a Voter ID card, in order to vote.

Voter registration rates in Arizona, the one state with both types of laws, suggest these cumbersome requirements will further disenfranchise low-income citizens, people of color and the elderly, all of whom are more likely to vote Democratic.

SCAPEGOATING IMMIGRANTS
Republicans first used outcry about undocumented immigration in the border state of Arizona to win support for a citizen initiative four years ago that requires voter registration applicants to document their citizenship with a birth certificate, a passport or naturalization papers.

“You had a confluence of two interests,” said Linda Brown, director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, when asked how backers of the initiative known as Proposition 200 overcame opposition from most of the public and the state’s elected officials in 2004.

The first force at work was the anti-illegal immigration movement. “These are the true believers,” Brown said. “Even though there is no documentation people are voting illegally, certainly not on purpose,” they will favor a crackdown on such behavior, she explained.

“Then you had the other group, the savvy political operatives,” Brown said. “They believe it is reasonable to deny law-abiding citizens the right to vote by shaving the rolls of people least likely to vote the way they want them to.”

When Proposition 200 passed there had been just 33 cases of documented voter fraud throughout the country between October 2002 and September 2005. Ten of the cases were acquitted or dismissed, and 19 of the 23 people prosecuted had registered to vote and voted using their real names — not the best method for getting away with fraud.

In fact, voting rights advocates say individuals trying to steal or cast an invalid ballot is less likely than being struck by lightning. The practice is even more rare among non-citizens.

“If you’re a non-citizen and you register or vote, there is a paper trail that connects you to that voting,” notes Justin Levitt, counsel to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “If you’re convicted, which is a straightforward thing, you can be fined up to $10,000 and, probably most serious, you can be deported. For the majority of people, those odds just don’t make sense.”

TURNING A RIGHT INTO A PRIVILEGE
According to the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, at least 38,000 voter registration applications have been rejected in Arizona since Proposition 200 went into effect in 2005, largely because of failure to document citizenship.

Outreach groups say that when they conduct registration drives voters often are not carrying their birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers.

“I was trained to do this job back in Detroit and it was so easy to get people registered because all I needed was people’s name, address and the last four digits of their Social Security number and their signature,” said Teresa Castro, political director for Arizona’s ACORN chapter, a group that has been working to register low-income voters. “But here in Arizona it got more complicated because you have to ask people to give up all this information to us.”

According to a phone survey commissioned by the Brennan Center in 2006, 7 percent of Americans lack ready access to proof of their citizenship.

“After Proposition 200, I feel like something that is a right is treated more like a privilege you have to earn,” said Teresa Castro, political director for ACORN in Arizona.

Access to documents like birth certificates and passports can be especially costly and difficult for low-income and elderly voters, like 97-year-old Shirley Preiss, who moved to Arizona in 2007 to be with her son, Joe Nemnich.

“My mom was born August 17 in 1910, in Clinton, Kentucky. There was no birth certificate,” Nemnich said. “Can I get a delayed birth certificate? No, I can’t … everyone she knows is dead.”

Preiss cast a ballot for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and has voted in every election since. Her Social Security card and several state-issued ID cards are of no use. She says Prop 200 violates her constitutional rights. “I have a legal right,” Preiss said. “It says so right in the book.”

THE ARIZONA MODEL GOES NATIONAL
Republicans say the problems faced by voters such as Preiss are a small price to pay.

“Every vote cast by a non-citizen, whether an illegal alien or a resident alien legally in the country, dilutes or cancels the vote of a citizen and thus disenfranchises him or her,” said von Spakovsky in his Heritage Foundation memorandum.

While Arizona’s law is unique, that could soon change. The chair of Arizona’s Republican Party, Randy Pullen, said he has advised supporters of similar laws in Georgia, Oklahoma and Colorado.

“It’s almost like we’re incubators in terms of what works and what doesn’t work on this issue. I’ve been very pleased with how this worked out nationally,” Pullen said. “And I expect … this will become pretty much the standard for most states.” Which states? “Red states,” he said.

Bills to require voters to show documented proof of citizenship narrowly failed this year in a handful of states where the GOP controls the legislature, such as Missouri and Kansas.

Virginia enacted a law that allows the registrar to remove “all persons known by him not to be United States citizens” from voter rolls after sending them a notice requesting sworn statement of citizenship that requires a reply within 14 days or the application or registration will be cancelled.

Supporters of Indiana’s Voter ID law cited voter fraud by undocumented immigrants as a reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the measure, which it did.

Eight states already require or request photo ID at the polls — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota; Kansas and Pennsylvania require photo ID for first-time voters. Meanwhile, anticipation of voter fraud has become so ingrained that recent news articles have encouraged voters in all states to bring photo ID with them to the polls “just in case.”

As Bush-appointee von Spakovsky argues, doing “anything less encourages contempt for the law and our election process.”

21st Century Voter Disenfranchisement: By the Numbers
By John Tarleton

While claiming to target immigrants who vote illegally, right-wing efforts to require proof of citizenship for voting could disenfranchise millions of U.S. citizens — primarily lowincome, African-American, elderly, female and college-age voters.

7: Percentage of voting-age Americans who lack ready access to citizenship documents (at least 13 million people).

12: Percentage of voting-age citizens with incomes less than $25,000 per year who lack ready access to citizenship documents.

66: Percentage of voting-age women with proof of citizenship who have a document with current legal name. At least 32 million women may have proof of citizenship documents that do not reflect their current name.

11: Percentage of voting-age U.S. citizens who lack valid, government-issued photo ID.

18: Percentage of elderly U.S. citizens who lack a valid, government-issued photo ID.

25: Percentage of voting-age African-Americans who do not have a valid, government-issue photo ID.

8: Percentage of voting-age whites who do not have valid, government issued photo ID.

15: Percentage of voting-age U.S. citizens earning less than $35,000 per year who do not have valid, government-issued photo ID.

10: Percentage of voting-age citizens whose photo ID does not have their current address and legal name.

18: Percentage of voting-age citizens age 18 to 24 who do not have photo ID with current address and name.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice, brennancenter.org

BTC Editorial

I dug up this interesting editorial from Democrat Jimmy Carter, who proposes that the Real ID Act of 2005 would minimize voter disenfranchisements. We should preface this by saying, not all Democrats think alike.

This is what it happens to look like when Carter is spinning Real ID as a solution to Republicans making ID’s LESS available for an identifying voter. I’d liketo add that it was a strong Republican move to push the Real ID Act in place. Carter proposed that since Real ID’s nazi-styled census machine is being phased in, lets go along with the proliferation of EVEN MORE forms of ID for those who are voting.

When I read things like this I begin to think that there is a special place in political hell for those who want to narrow focus those who can and cannot vote in an American election, making it a proving ground for U.S. citizenship.

NOTE: Citizens chief opposing argument here is making a photo ID a pre-requisite to voting disenfranchises more voters during election season.

This New York Times Article was published in February of 2008.

“In 2005, we led a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform and concluded that both parties’ concerns were legitimate — a free and fair election requires both ballot security and full access to voting. We offered a proposal to bridge the partisan divide by suggesting a uniform voter photo ID, based on the federal Real ID Act of 2005, to be phased in over five years. To help with the transition, states would provide free voter photo ID cards for eligible citizens; mobile units would be sent out to provide the IDs and register voters. (Of the 21 members of the commission, only three dissented on the requirement for an ID.)

No state has yet accepted our proposal. What’s more, when it comes to ID laws, confusion reigns. The laws on the books, mainly backed by Republicans, have not made it easy enough for voters to acquire an ID. At the same time, Democrats have tended to try to block voter ID legislation outright — instead of seeking to revise that legislation to promote accessibility. When lower courts have considered challenges to state laws on the question of access, their decisions have not been consistent. And in too many instances, individual judges have appeared to vote along partisan lines.”

In states like Texas, where voter ID and more government regulation is despised, you find a tooth-and-nail fight to keep citizens from the disenfranchisement lines.

Carter later admits that minority groups, who historically vote Democratic, are disenfranchised by voter ID laws. Hitching votes to a Real ID would perform the same purpose- only those who could not provide citizenship documents would lose their amenities to vote.

“The bad news, however, was this: While the numbers of registered voters without valid photo IDs were few, the groups least likely to have them were women, African-Americans and Democrats. Surveys in other states, of course, may well present a different result. “