Immigrants vs. Gessler

There are a number of reasons to be critical of Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s crusade to gain more legal authority for his office over voter registration in the name of preventing voter fraud.

For starters, while he continues to claim 11,800 legal immigrants may have illegally registered to vote in Colorado since 2006, he still refuses to provide the data behind those numbers to county clerks, who directly oversee voter registration, so they can check alleged irregularities within their own counties.

Even in cases where Gessler says he has specific documents showing a person is listed as a noncitizen, but also is registered to vote, he has declined to share that data with clerks or prosecutors.

Gessler says he wants to be sure he is on sound legal footing before he shares such information, but he has no compunction about using the specter of that information to make political points before Congress or the state Legislature.

Beyond this, however, Gessler’s effort is part of a broader national campaign that taps into legitimate citizen concerns about illegal immigration, but effectively makes legal immigration a major target. It is very likely harming our country in the process.

As The Wall Street Journal noted last week, the anti-immigrant campaign has made Congress reluctant to revise visa programs that grant highly skilled workers entrance to the United States and allow top students educated in this country to remain here.

The result is a “brain drain” through which some of our most talented students are forced to go to other countries to start businesses or conduct research, and high-tech firms in this country can’t always get the top-notch talent they need to compete.

Furthermore, the anti-immigrant fervor makes it tough to expand legal immigration to meet the needs of agriculture and other industries, thereby promoting illegal immigration.

Gessler has yet to provide verifiable data that demonstrates Colorado has a significant voter-fraud problem tied to immigrants. But he has demonstrated that, like too many politicians nationwide, he is willing to stoke immigration fears for political reasons.


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