Voting-integrity advocates Sunday blasted President Obama for seeming to condone voting by illegal immigrants.
Obama made his comments in an interview Thursday with millennial actress Gina Rodriguez, and the video gained widespread attention this weekend. Rodriguez told Obama that “Dreamers, undocumented citizens — and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country — are fearful of voting.” She asked if they would be deported.
“Well, it’s a felony. But it’s the completion of a multi-year effort by the Left to get aliens on the rolls … This is not a surprise at all to me.”
The law is unambiguous — only citizens may vote. It is, in fact, the most visible right of citizenship. But critics said Obama did not make that clear in his answer: “Not true. And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, etc. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote.”
J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told LifeZette on Sunday that Obama’s answer fits a pattern of looking the other way when it comes to the integrity of the voter rolls.
“Well, it’s a felony,” he said. “But it’s the completion of a multi-year effort by the Left to get aliens on the rolls … This is not a surprise at all to me.”
The internet hoax site Snopes on Sunday rated as “false” the claim that Obama was encouraging illegal immigrants to vote. It points to Obama’s statement that people have a “greater reason” to vote if their relatives are illegal immigrants. In addition, Obama emphasized later in the interview that “Latino citizens” should vote to “make your voice heard, because you’re not just speaking for yourself. You’re speaking for family members, friends, classmates of yours in school who may not have a voice.”
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But Adams argued that Obama sent a signal by not forcefully correcting Rodriguez when she suggested that illegal immigrants could vote.
“His rhetoric is familiar,” he said. “He does this all the time. He encourages lawlessness and then says something that covers it up. But what the illegal alien hears is: ‘It’s OK to vote.'”
One can only imagine the reaction if a Republican president, asked by a gun owner about smuggling his weapon into a gun-free zone, offered assurances that nothing would happen. It is not likely that critics would cut him slack, even if he tried to walk it back later in the interview.
“I wish we had a president who understood with clarity that a non-citizen should not cast a vote and should not be doing any winking and nodding about it,” said True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht, whose organization advocates for fair elections.
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, agreed that Obama sent the wrong message.
“The president should be upholding the basic integrity of our democracy,” he said. “That is sending exactly the wrong signal … I don’t see where it was just the president misspeaking.”
Adams, whose organization has sued jurisdictions across the country over irregularities in the election system, said the president was right — as a practical matter, if not legally — when he told Rodriguez that non-citizens have little to fear if they vote in elections. The offense is rarely prosecuted, he said.
Adams noted that the Public Interest Legal Foundation has uncovered many examples of ineligible voters on the voter registration rolls in multiple jurisdictions. He said he forwarded a list to the Justice Department.
“Nothing ever happened,” he said.