States Asking Government for Access to Immigrant Database

Officials in Texas joined together on July 18 to seek access to an immigration database to ensure that no noncitizens are voting in this year’s elections. According to the Houston Chronicle, the state’s Secretary of State, Esperanza Andrade, drafted a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to allow access to the database, which is alleged to contain more than 100 million records of immigrants.

Several other states with large Latino groups have been drafting similar letters with the hope of stopping undocumented immigrants from voting. The DHS has been reluctant at allowing states access; however, it awarded Florida with access last week.

According to NPR, a number of voting and civil rights groups along with the Department of Justice have come forward with lawsuits against these states, citing that the voter ID laws and other laws discriminating against immigrants will disenfranchise minority and disadvantaged voters, even if they are legal citizens.

Carlos Duarte, the Texas Director of Mi Familia Vota, a Latino voting advocacy organization told the Chronicle that he agrees that these decisions are just going to create more problems.

“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,” Duarte said. “This is happening so close to the election that the actual effect is going to be disenfranchising people who otherwise should be eligible to vote.”

However, some officials are pleased with the results they’ve gained from using the data system. Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Miami Herald that by using the system, the state has flagged 2,700 voters without U.S. citizenship and that he is not violating anything, but rather just doing his job.

“My job is to enforce the laws of our state,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make sure that we follow the law. If somebody disagrees with it, we should look at it and see what they’re saying. But my job is to make sure Florida law’s followed.”