Legislative Update: 11/08/2016
Could the Presidential and other key elections be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Despite arguments that voter fraud is so rare that it is negligible, efforts to ensure fair elections may not be in vain. Indeed, researchers in 2014 found voter fraud to be so widespread as to have likely swayed tight elections in 2008 and 2012 and have a great impact on local and Congressional races. (Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2014)
Data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study revealed that more than 14 percent of non-citizens were registered to vote in the 2008 and 2010 elections, with 6.4 percent of non-citizens actually voting in 2008. (Id.) Additionally, the study estimated that roughly 80% of non-citizens vote Democrat. (Id.)
Voting fraud is prevalent, though infrequently prosecuted. The Department of Justice’s reluctance to prosecute voting fraud cases allows politicians who stand to benefit from the illegal conduct, and journalists who support these politicians, to turn a blind eye and label the issue a “myth.” Hans von Spakovsky, an expert on election integrity, explained the media are well aware of the real threat of voter fraud, “and that’s why they’re constantly trying to minimize it.” (Breitbart, Nov. 4, 2016) Just this year, investigators found over 1000 non-citizens registered to vote in just eight counties in Virginia, which has recently become a swing state. (Breitbart, Nov. 3, 2016) The total number of non-citizens registered to vote in Virginia’s 135 other counties is unknown. (Id.)
Experts suggest minimizing the impact of voter fraud by requiring identity and citizenship verification at the time of registration. J. Christian Adams, of the Election Law Center and Public Interest Legal Foundation, explained how registration rules facilitate voter fraud. (Id.) “For example, take citizen voting. There is something called a citizen checkbox. That’s the only way we have to stop foreigners from getting on the voter rolls. When you register to vote, you simply check a box: ‘Yes, I’m a United States citizen.’ There’s no verification in most states. You just get on the rolls because of the federal law, Motor Voter, passed in 1993.This was part of a long-term structural rigging of the election.” (Id.) Once a non-citizen is registered to vote, there is little that can be done at the time of the election to stop that non-citizen from illegally casting a ballot.
Requiring states to use the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program to verify voter rolls is another common sense reform states can make to minimize voter fraud. (FAIR Backgrounder, November 2016) SAVE electronically accesses the federal government’s database of aliens for the purposes of verifying an alien’s eligibility to receive public benefits. (Id.) Indeed, federal law already requires the SAVE system to be available to the states. Florida currently uses the program to verify the citizenship status of registrants in its voter rolls.
A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reveals the immigrant population in the United States (which includes legal and illegal aliens) hit a record 43.3 million in 2015. (See CIS Immigration Surging: 1.5 Million Arriving Annually, November 2016) Further, the data affirms an earlier CIS report finding that more than 3 million new legal and illegal aliens settled in the United States during 2014 and 2015, or approximately 1.5 million new arrivals per year. (Id.; see FAIR Legislative Update, June, 7, 2016) This reflects a 40 percent increase over the prior two years. (Id.)
CIS estimates that between three-fourths and two-thirds of the aliens arriving annually are legal aliens with the rest being illegal aliens. (See CIS Immigration Surging: 1.5 Million Arriving Annually, November 2016) In 2014, roughly 1.1 million of the 1.5 million were legally admitted, while approximately 400,000 were illegal aliens. (Id.) The report shows that the alien population grew as quickly between 2014 and 2015 as it did in the prior four years. (Id.) The 1.9 million increase in the combined immigrant population in just the last two years almost equals the two million growth in the four-year period from 2009 to 2013. (Id.)
As a result of this administration’s increased legal immigration policies and lax enforcement against illegal aliens, the alien population is now 13.5 percent of the population in the United States – the highest percentage in 105 years. (Id.) Based on current trends, it will surpass the highest level in American history in seven years. (Id.) This record wave of immigration comes at a time when most Americans clearly want to see immigration decreased. According to a Gravis Marketing poll in July, 63 percent of those surveyed say that we admit too many immigrants into the country. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 9, 2016)
The increased alien surge has created an influx of workers. According to Breitbart News, this huge inflow in 2014 and 2015 has “increased the annual supply of new workers by almost 50 percent.” (Breitbart, Report: One New Immigrant for Every 2 U.S. Births in 2015, Oct. 31, 2016) This equates roughly to one new foreign arrival, legal and illegal, for every two Americans who began looking for a job in 2015. (Id.) Americans are overwhelmingly upset by foreign workers taking American jobs and driving down wages. In a recent poll, 75 percent of believe that American workers should get American jobs. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 9, 2016)
According to the CIS report, while Mexico remains the top country of origin for the alien population in the U.S. (11.6 million total in 2015), it makes up a smaller share of new arrivals. Between 2010 and 2015, the total number of Mexicans (legal and illegal) in the U.S. actually decreased by approximately 68,000. (See CIS Immigration Surging: 1.5 Million Arriving Annually, November 2016) Since 2010, the countries of origin with the largest percentage increase are India, China, the Philippines, Dominican Republic , El Salvador, Cuba, Nigeria, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, Honduras, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Columbia, Vietnam, and Iraq. (Id.) States with the largest numerical increase in total alien population since 2010 are California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington, Georgia, Minnesota, and North Carolina. (Id.)
The entire report can be viewed here.
Last Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), a Cold War-era law that provides immigration benefits to Cuban migrants not offered to citizens of any other country.
Specifically, the CAA allows Cuban citizens or nationals who reach the United States, regardless of whether they have done so legally or illegally, to remain and adjust to permanent resident status after one year. According to the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, which was adopted as part of a 1995 revision of the CAA, all Cubans intercepted at sea en route to the U.S. are repatriated (“wet feet”), while those who step on American soil (“dry feet”) are eligible for preferential treatment. In addition, under the Refugee Education Assistance Act, Cubans are the only immigrant group with immediate access to federal benefits because they are presumed to be refugees.
Several months ago, a group of Latin American foreign ministers sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the United States to end special immigration policies for Cubans. (Ecuadorian Embassy Press Release, Aug. 29, 2016) The letter was a joint initiative by nine Latin American countries including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. (Id.)
The foreign ministers expressed concern about the negative effects of U.S. immigration policies across the region. (Id.) “The 1966 U.S. Public Law 89-732, known as the ‘Cuban Adjustment Act’, and the policy commonly known as ‘wet foot/dry foot’ have encouraged a disorderly, irregular and unsafe flow of Cubans who, risking their lives, pass through our countries in order to reach the U.S.,” the letter reads. (Id.) They go on to add that these policies have created a serious humanitarian crisis for Cuban nationals seeking to reach the United States. (Id.) “These people, often facing situations of extreme vulnerability, fall victim to mafias dedicated to people trafficking, sexual exploitation and collective assaults. This situation has generated a migratory crisis that is affecting our countries.” (Id.)
The foreign ministers’ concerns are not unfounded. As relations between the United States and Cuba continue to normalize, a feared end to the special immigration status and generous benefits bestowed on Cubans is driving a new wave of illegal Cuban migration. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics compiled by the Pew Research Center, 43,159 Cubans entered the United States in Fiscal Year 2015, an amount nearly double that of the previous year. (Pew Research Center, Aug. 5, 2016) The influx shows no signs of slowing, as 46,635 Cubans entered the country in the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2016 – already surpassing full Fiscal Year 2015’s total. (Id.)
After acknowledging receipt of the letter, the Obama administration made it clear that it does not plan on changing the migratory status of Cubans even though diplomatic relations are being reestablished with the island nation. (Washington Examiner, Aug. 30, 2016) “We continue to encourage all countries to respect the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers, and to ensure that they are treated humanely,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “The Cuban Adjustment Act remains in place and ‘wet foot, dry foot’ remains U.S. policy regarding Cuban migration.”
Even though the administration is uninterested, there is a bipartisan effort in Congress to reform the Cuban immigration policies that are unfair relics of a bygone era. Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) have introduced legislation to ensure that Cubans are treated under the same immigration policies as citizens of other counties with which the United States has diplomatic relations. Their legislation, H.R. 4847, the Correcting Unfair Benefits for Aliens (CUBA) Act of 2016, effectively addresses the most egregious policies that provide immediate amnesty to Cubans and rob American taxpayers of billions. Enactment of this legislation would stop the influx of Cubans at the southern border by eliminating outdated policies that incentivize migration, save billions of dollars, and restore a level playing field for those who seek to enter the country. For these reasons, FAIR strongly urges passage of the CUBA Act.
A complete bill summary can be found here.
Today is Election Day and before you go to the polls, check out FAIR’s Election Guide on immigration. While you most likely know where the Presidential candidates stand on immigration, many House and Senate candidates have also made it a central campaign issue. FAIR’s Election Guide is not an endorsement of any candidate but simply a source of information to clarify where candidates in the most competitive races across the country stand on amnesty, legal immigration, border security, interior enforcement and taxpayer benefits for illegal aliens. Click here for FAIR’s Election Guide and after you read it, please share it with your friends and family.