Texas Headed Request to Access Immigrant Records

Houston– With the upcoming general election right around corner, Texas election officials have joined forces with a number of states requesting access to an immigration database in order to check voter registration records in order to avoid vote fraud by non-US citizens.

The database, known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE), is made up of more than 100 million immigration records being requested by Texas Secretary of State, Hope Andrade, from Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano.  

Election Fraud

According to Andrade’s office, the request was made in order to check voter records against the database specifically to combat voter fraud.  The recent move follows a court battle currently taking place between Texas officials and the US Department of Justice regarding a new Texas state law requiring voters to provide a photo identification at the polls.

The request however, is not without controversy as Texas voter advocates have voiced concern that Andrade’s plans would keep minority voters from casting their vote on Election Day this  November.  One of those advocates, Carlos Duarte, director of Mi Familia Vota expressed concern that the problem is being made bigger than what is actually is and the end result would be confusion and disenfranchising people who would be eligible to vote.  

Access to immigration database

While Texas officials have without a doubt taken a leading role in requesting access to the immigration database, they certainly are not alone.

Florida officials were involved in a litigation battle with the Obama administration after seeking access to the database.  The administration eventually gave way to Florida’s request following a decision from a federal judge granting Florida’s request to purge non-US citizens from its voting polls.  

Verifying immigration status

Opponents of the system contend that the database was intended for use by government agencies to verify the immigration status of applicants for benefits and licenses and not to check voter polls.

In her letter to the Department of Homeland Security in 2007, Andrade noted that she understood that the database had many functions and was not to be used solely to confirm voter eligibility.  However, the magnitude of voter fraud in Texas remains a critical concern and some state officials of the system point to cases as evidence.

In particular, Texas officials point to the federal government which has prosecuted more than 100 defendants for election fraud since 2002 while Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot reports that his office claimed 50 election fraud convictions during that time as well.

Opponents however, continue to remain unconvinced.  Some critics point to a 2007 report on voter fraud claims prepared by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law which found that individuals are more likely to be struck by lightning than engage in voter fraud.

US Homeland Security

Whether the purpose of the access is to combat election fraud or to verify immigration status, it is left to the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security to grant the request of Texas election officials, together with other states to have an access to immigrant records.

The Department is in a better position to determine if it is necessary to grant the request taking into consideration the safety of immigrants’ records and personal information. 

Coming to Texas as an immigrant

Niren and Associates, is a firm providing immigration services for decades, can assist a foreign national in immigrating to Texas and help all other individuals with immigration problems. To serve its clients better, it has established an immigration office in Houston where some of its dedicated immigration attorneys are based.

For more information, the firm can be reached at (713) 338-2711 or at [email protected].

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

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