News / USA

Top US Court Weighs Voter Law Against Illegal Immigrants

An anti-immigration rights protester, left, holds up a sign as he is pointed at and shouted at by immigration rights marchers during a Puente Movement event March Against Deportation, Family Separation, and Workplace Raids on March 11, 2013, in Phoenix.An anti-immigration rights protester, left, holds up a sign as he is pointed at and shouted at by immigration rights marchers during a Puente Movement event March Against Deportation, Family Separation, and Workplace Raids on March 11, 2013, in Phoenix.
x
An anti-immigration rights protester, left, holds up a sign as he is pointed at and shouted at by immigration rights marchers during a Puente Movement event March Against Deportation, Family Separation, and Workplace Raids on March 11, 2013, in Phoenix.
An anti-immigration rights protester, left, holds up a sign as he is pointed at and shouted at by immigration rights marchers during a Puente Movement event March Against Deportation, Family Separation, and Workplace Raids on March 11, 2013, in Phoenix.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on whether the state of Arizona has the right to craft its own voting laws to prevent illegal immigrants from casting ballots, a process critics say opens the door to discrimination against legal voters.

Arizona, which shares a border with Mexico, has some of the strongest anti-immigration laws in the United States and the voting rights case is the latest in its efforts to deal with non-U.S. citizens illegally in the state.

It is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a 2004 state law requiring local voting applicants to provide physical proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport, tribal forms or a driver’s license.

Opponents of Arizona’s voter-approved Proposition 200 say it violates the decade-old National Voter Registration Act, a federal law requiring voting applicants to state they are U.S. citizens without providing any proof. People caught lying can face perjury charges.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne argued the constitutionality of Proposition 200 before the Court Monday, saying an “honor system” is not strong enough to prevent voter fraud.

Jesus Gonzalez is the lead plaintiff in the case. He tried to register to vote right after becoming a U.S. citizen but was rejected twice by state officials. Gonzalez used both his driver’s license and his naturalization certificate number, but officials said they still could not confirm his citizenship.

Civil rights groups supporting Gonzalez say his story is not uncommon. In a legal brief submitted to the court, the groups say more than 31,000 voting applicants were rejected between January 2005 and September 2007. Of that number, 11,000 eventually succeeded in registering to vote after repeated attempts.

The groups say Proposition 200 violates the U.S. Constitution “because it requires naturalized citizens - predominantly Latinos and Asians - to surmount additional and unique hurdles to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

“The unique obstacles presented by the law effectively relegated this population to second-class citizenship,” they write in the brief.

The Obama administration is on their side, although it is focusing on another aspect of the case. It has filed court documents supporting the ruling of a federal appeals court, which ruled against Proposition 200 because it said federal law overrides state law.

The outcome of the case could determine how other states approach the issue. If the Supreme Court upholds Arizona’s request to determine its own voting guidelines, other states could follow suit, opening the door for new sets of rules like Florida’s attempt in 2005 to require voter applicants to prove their mental capacity.

Voter rights groups, including the Constitutional Accountability Center, expressed cautious optimism after Monday’s court arguments.

"A majority of the Court, including Justice [Anthony] Kennedy, appeared to recognize that the entire point of having a single federal form was to streamline the voter registration process, and that approving Arizona's law would pave the way for a patchwork of 50 state forms," Doug Kendall, the group’s president, said in a statement.

Even after the Supreme Court decides on this case, the battle over immigration is far from over. Arizona is at the center of a national debate on how to secure the country’s borders and treat the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The issue is being tackled by lawmakers in Congress and advocacy groups across America.

You May Like

Video VOA ‘Town Hall’ Shines Light on Ebola Crisis

Experts call for greater speed in identification and treatment of deadly disease More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Funding Program Helps Extremely Poor in Ghana

Broad objective for Ghana's social cash transfer program is to lessen the impact of poverty on the most vulnerable people, elderly, orphans, those with disabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: roger from: Michigan
March 19, 2013 2:04 AM
let me get this straight. illegals can vote if they don't get caught. who is the brain child of this ? are the politicians, all crazy? Idea!!! just give them all the SS benifits, a green card. Then You move to Mexico and try the same B.S. and see how long U last there !!!!!


by: Citizen from: USA
March 19, 2013 1:59 AM
Yes because preventing citizens of another country from voting in our elections is bigotry.


by: imran igra from: new york
March 19, 2013 1:58 AM
we are becoming more and more like Third World.
Non-tolerant & Isolationists.
Not cool, AZ.


by: EasyPeasy from: California
March 19, 2013 1:56 AM
How does presenting a DL prove citizenship??

In Response

by: Anonymous
March 19, 2013 9:44 AM
Because you nim-rod, you can't get an AZ license unless your a U.S. citizen


by: Anony from: Mous
March 19, 2013 1:54 AM
If this kind of stupidity is upheld, there should at least be new protection for states creating their own marijuana laws.


by: Anonymous
March 19, 2013 1:42 AM
Once again, liberal's resort to name calling. Terrible Arizona is making people prove they are actually citizens before they can exercise their Constitutional right to vote. Oh the horrors! A drivers license, birth certificate, naturalization card? That's so unfair.

Listen sheep, I know you are all brainwashed by your fluff TV. A law like this is made because illegal's are breaking the law. It's not a tough concept to grasp. I know you libs all want that illegal vote to keep the gravy train rolling, but illegal is illegal.

Why was Mr. Gonzalez's application refused twice using two different numbers? Could it possibly be that 312 other people have already attempted to use those numbers to secure fake identity? Could there just be a simple glitch in a government system that could be fixed so Mr. Gonzalez can cast his vote? Oh no! One person in a state of 6.5 million had a problem...let's strike this terrible law instead.

Think sheep, think.


by: Anonymous
March 19, 2013 1:24 AM
Wow. If the court sides with Arizona, it will set a precedent in all 50 states. Think about it... we might never have a Democrat president again!


by: Anonymous
March 18, 2013 5:02 PM
Once again Arizona is leading the nation in bigotry.

In Response

by: Cheri
March 19, 2013 1:46 AM
They are a leader in enforcing already existing laws in this country that the Federal Government has decided to look the other way on. How ridiculous it's come to this where a state has to petition to enforce the actual law. Your comment is bigoted - you're condemning an entire state of people of all backgrounds. I find the most racist and bigoted people are the ones that cry racism for every bloody thing. The fact that you post anonymously sure adds to your credibility. Bigoted against who? There is no race involved in the law/legislation. The law is for Americans who last time I checked were all different colors and creeds. When someone breaks in to your home, I sure hope you don't call the police. Why would you? They're breaking the law, something you don't care that millions are doing, so I'm sure you wouldn't mind. Your racism comment is so tiring....try a new approach if you can't handle that the law is the law.

In Response

by: hkc from: san antonio
March 19, 2013 1:43 AM
once again Arizona shows they are thinking correctly unlike the rest of the nation.

In Response

by: Anonymous 2 from: california
March 18, 2013 9:11 PM
Once again Arizona is leading the nation in a reality check! Thank you Arizona. Somebody has to take the lead before this country goes down the drain.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid