President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress on Thursday, saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole.
While stressing that it remains illegal for noncitizens to vote, secretaries of state from Ohio and Kansas said they won’t have the tools to sniff out illegal immigrants who register anyway, ignoring stiff penalties to fill out the registration forms that are easily available at shopping malls, motor vehicle bureaus and in curbside registration drives.
Anyone registering to vote attests that he or she is a citizen, but Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said mass registration drives often aren’t able to give due attention to that part, and so illegal immigrants will still get through.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach said even some motor vehicle bureau workers automatically ask customers if they want to register to vote, which some noncitizens in the past have cited as their reason for breaking the law to register.
“It’s a guarantee it will happen,” Mr. Kobach said.
Democrats disputed that it was an issue at all, saying Mr. Obama’s new policy, which could apply to more than 4 million illegal immigrants, doesn’t change anything in state or federal law.
“The president’s executive order gives immigrants the right to stay — immigrants who have been here for years, immigrants who have been working hard and whose labor we have needed,” Ms. Norton said. “The Republicans may want to go down in history as the party who tried once again 100 years later to nullify the right to vote. Well, I am here to say they shall not succeed.”
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, said he doubted illegal immigrants would risk running afoul of the law — which could get them deported — just to be an insignificant part of an election.
The hearing was the latest GOP effort to dent Mr. Obama’s executive action, announced in November, which grants tentative legal status and work permits to as many as 4 million illegal immigrant parents whose children are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. The president also expanded a 2012 policy for so-called Dreamers, or illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, granting them tentative legal status and work permits as well.