November 24, 2007

Just a coincidence?

Posted in politics, Uncategorized, voter suppression, voting tagged , , , , at 5:29 am by bluebanshee

So now we find out that there has been a surge in applications for citizenship — a fairly predictable consequence of an impending fee increase. The backlog stands at about 1.4 million and the wait has jumped from 7 months to an estimated 16-18 months. Those eligible for citizenship rush to get their applications in before the deadline and the the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is unable to cope. They say they hired 1500 new employees to deal with the deluge of applications but the backlog mushrooms out of control nonetheless.

Of course, once one remembers that Citizenship and Immigration is part of the Homeland Security department the pattern becomes clear — this is just another branch of the folks who have brought us color-coded security alerts and  the dreadful mismanagement of the Katrina disaster.   More bumbling in yet another part of Homeland  (In)Security — or so it would seem on the surface.

But wait a minute — is there a more sinister pattern here?  If these 1.4 million applicants have to wait 16-18 months to become citizens then they will probably not be able to vote in the 2008 presidential election.   This could have a significant impact on elections in several states with high concentrations of applicants such as Florida.

“The longer a person takes to become a citizen, the fewer voters you have on the rolls,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition told the Boston Globe. “When we’re faced with a national election that determines the next president, the last thing we should be doing is keeping people from voting.”

If you put this backlog into the context of the heated rhetoric about immigration, particularly on the Republican side of the aisle, it is easy to see that there might be political motivation behind this backlog.  There is a high probability that many of these new citizens, angered by the immigrant-bashing of  the likes of Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan,  will vote Democratic.  Since the Republican party has for years been associated with voter suppression as a campaign strategy,  it should come as no surprise that there would be a little foot-dragging when it comes to enfranchising a large block of Democratic-leaning new voters.

Some would suggest that the delayed naturalization process for this large block of applicants is simply a coincidence, not deliberate policy at all.  But it is hard to believe that  an administration that politicized the DOJ and used it as a tool for prosecutions of political enemies would have any qualms about politicizing the naturalization process if there was a political advantage to be gained thereby.

So no, this is not a coincidence — not by a long shot.  It is another effort to suppress the vote of those who are likely to vote Democratic and unlikely to vote Republican.  If certain groups of applicants are identified as leaning Republican, you can bet your bippy that they will be given preferential treatment and their applications expedited.


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