Voting Reforms Might Have Unintended Consequences for Immigrants
The “For The People” act passed the House in early March. The Democrat-sponsored bill attempts to increase voter turnout through sweeping reforms. This legislation is especially intended to help voters of color. However, some immigration experts have raised concerns that the bill may unintentionally harm immigrants.
As the bill appears before the Senate, Democrats have found themselves faced with a dilemma. Automatic voter registration (when applying for forms of state identification) is a central part of the legislation, and yet it poses the greatest threat to immigrants. Some immigration lawyers fear the measure could mistakenly register immigrants with work visas or green cards. Even if the individual never votes, the very act of registering can be considered a false claim to U.S. Citizenship. This could result in legal consequences, including deportation. It is important to note, however, that there are other immigrant advocates that do not share this concern, since automatic voter registration has already been implemented in several states and this specific problem has not yet arisen.
The voting bill is important, and these concerns should not prevent its passage in the Senate. However, it is important that Democrats acknowledge and investigate this issue, and make appropriate adjustments. These concerns should also prompt a push for increased accessibility measures (such as language services) for immigrants at government facilities like the Department of Motor Vehicles.