Saturday, October 2, 2010




Every national poll shows the Republican Party is poised to make big gains this fall, perhaps even taking back control of both the House and Senate. Even here in California, where the movie muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only GOP candidate of the last 18 years to win a top-of-ticket race, Republican nominees for governor and the U.S. Senate are giving their Democratic opponents a tussle.

Nevertheless, Republican activists already have decided who to blame if they don’t make the gains they expect. No surprise here; it will be illegal immigrants, the same group many GOP candidates have spent much of this year blaming for problems in public schools, unemployment and just about every other American ailment.

About the only thing they haven’t tried to blame on illegals is Wall Street’s big trouble; illegals are simply too poor for anyone to believe they had anything to do with that one.

Starting in August, GOP blogs on the Internet began touting what one called “the Obama/Democrat secret plan to win in November. He will allow illegal aliens to vote, by ‘mistake.’”

Said blogger Steve Frank, a former president of the ultra-conservative California Republican Assembly, “Barack Obama has stopped the fence to keep illegal aliens out of this country. Barack has decided that no state should be allowed to enforce federal immigration laws by suing Arizona…the Obama administration is implementing a general amnesty that will allow the vast majority of illegal aliens to stay in the United States. The administration is apparently extending no prosecution of illegal voting by noncitizens…”

By coincidence, the same day Frank wrote that, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, reported 644 of the planned 650 miles of border fencing had been completed, the bulk of the work done under Obama’s administration. She said the other six miles would be finished by year’s end. So much for stopping the fence.

The claim that illegal immigrants vote a lot in American elections is an old one, and also unproven. Since 1996, when Orange County Democrat Loretta Sanchez won election to Congress by ousting conservative Republican Robert Dornan, the illegals-vote cry has gone up from the GOP every year or two. It has never been proven.

Dornan, for example, claimed massive voting by illegals cost him his job. The Republican majority that controlled the House of Representatives at the time investigated and could find no more than three dozen examples of non-citizens voting in that election, far from enough to have made any difference.

Most of those who did vote, the GOP-controlled investigation found, did it in the mistaken belief they were eligible.

Now Frank and other Republicans have seized on a summertime report that an illegal immigrant voted in Tennessee in 2004 and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of Napolitano’s department, will not use that fact to deny the man’s current citizenship application. There is no evidence this case has been repeated anywhere else or in significant quantities, but it is the root of the claim that Obama’s Justice Department won’t prosecute proven cases of voting fraud by illegals.

The conservative Heritage Foundation think tank also raises the possibility of massive voting by illegals, even though the alleged phenomenon has never been proven anywhere. Heritage claims as many as 3 percent of all registered voters may be illegals, citing a Government Accountability Office finding that 3 percent of those called for jury duty in one Florida congressional district in 2005 were not citizens. The GAO, however, did not ascertain the nationality of those non-citizens; if they were Cubans (then the most numerous immigrant group in Florida), odds are they were registered Republicans and not Democrats at all.

The charge of a massive amnesty stems from a recent memo from ICE chief John Morton ordering an end to deportation proceedings against immigrants who have already applied for and are about to obtain legal status, until their cases are decided. If an applicant is rejected, deportation proceedings would resume.

Morton says that will free up personnel and money to concentrate on what he calls “the worst of the worst.” But Frank and other Republicans call this a form of amnesty.

Said Napolitano, Morton’s boss and both a former U.S. attorney and ex-attorney general and governor of Arizona, “Like any prosecutor’s office, we have to set priorities.” She said she’s put border security and raids on employers of illegals at the top of her list. Under Obama, she reported, 2,785 employers suspected of illegally hiring non-citizens have been audited and $6.4 million in fines assessed, more audits and fine money in two years than during the eight years of the Bush administration.

That doesn’t sound much like a general amnesty, but Republicans say the entire picture will lead to a large illegal immigrant vote in November.

The bottom line: It’s never happened before and it almost certainly will not happen this fall. But that won’t keep Republicans from blaming illegals for any, and maybe all, defeats they suffer.
Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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