Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Non-Citizen Voters Diluting the Rights and Privileges of U.S. Citizenship

Recommendations to Ensure the Integrity of Elections Outlined

WASHINGTON, DC (September 18, 2012) – A new Center for Immigration Studies’ (CIS) Backgrounder examines efforts by state electoral officials to verify the accuracy of voter registration lists and the federal government to deny state access to information allowing ineligible non-citizen voters to be identified. The report emphasizes the need for federal-state cooperation in ensuring the integrity of voter enrollment. By not actively working with the states, the federal government blurs the distinction between citizens and aliens, thus diluting the value of citizenship as defined by the US Constitution.

The report is online here

The Backgrounder discusses evidence of voter lists containing the names of non-citizens, citing the Government Accountability Office’s discovery that 3 percent of the potential jurors on the voter list in one federal court district were non-citizens, and evidence from states like Colorado and Florida of non-citizens appearing on their voter lists. The document notes that states moved forward with their obligation to verify voter eligibility with the overwhelming consent of the public. A June Quinnipiac University poll found that three-fifths of Floridians approved of state officials' investigations.

The federal government attempted to deny states access to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database for vetting voter lists in violation of federal law which unambiguously requires immigration authorities to respond to queries from state officials seeking information relating to an individual's citizenship or immigration status.

“How many fraudulent voters are too many? The integrity of our elections must be upheld, and the federal government must support the states in ensuring non-citizens are not registered or permitted to vote when they are not eligible,” commented Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s Director of Policy Studies. “Surely we do not want to allow non-citizens to become a factor in any election. In addition, state and federal officials must prevent the registration of ineligible voters and clean up the voting lists to prevent fraudulent voting, either by non-citizens or imposters.”

Voter registration efforts are essential, and the Backgrounder provides recommendations for ensuring the integrity of voter lists. The report urges systemic vetting efforts including front-end voter registration screening, use of technology like biometrics to complement the more error-prone biographic screening, reinstitution of the issuance of ID Cards to newly naturalized and derivative citizens to facilitate registering and voting, distribution of a pamphlet for registrars to aid in identifying various forms of citizenship and naturalization, and USCIS assistance for state and local elections’ officials in identifying an individual's status as an alien versus a derivative or naturalized citizen.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: CONTACT: Marguerite Telford,, (202) 466-8185

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.  The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Australia:  End the boatpeople-Welfare cycle

Judith Sloan

FREE-market economists support free trade in goods and services. Free-market economists also support the free movement of capital and labour. But free-market economists warn against the corrosive and adverse effects of government-provided income support and welfare services on people's incentives to participate in the labour market and to improve their economic lot through their own efforts.

I fit comfortably into the category of free-market economist. Not surprisingly, I find the following comment of one of the doyens of free-market economics, Nobel Prize winner Professor Gary Becker, very persuasive.

"Since I am a free-trader, readers might expect my preferred alternative to the present system (of controlled migration to the US) to be 19th-century-style unlimited immigration. I would support that if we lived in the 19th-century world where government spending was tiny. But governments now spend huge amounts on medical care, retirement, education and other benefits and entitlements. Experience demonstrates that, in our political system, it is impossible to prevent immigrants gaining access to these benefits."

This comment applies no less to Australia. Immigrants, particularly those entering under the humanitarian visa (refugee) category, are attracted to Australia in part because of the generous safety net provided by governments. Free health care, free education, income support - these sorts of luxuries are potent magnets for refugees when seeking another country in which to live. It is a form of welfare arbitrage - safety from persecution with the additional advantage of a raft of government-provided benefits.

No doubt, I will be accused at this point of being heartless and ignorant. Surely refugees bring all sorts of economic benefits to Australia and these should form part of the equation when devising the size of the humanitarian quota. After all, refugees have shown determination to leave their homelands and, in the case of those who arrive by boat, to hand over money to people-smugglers to expedite their permanent entry to Australia. Does this sort of energetic resolve not correlate with subsequent economic success in Australia?

Sadly, the figures point to the exact opposite. They show that refugees have very low rates of labour force participation and extremely high rates of welfare dependence, even years after being granted permanent residence. And these figures are the official ones - admittedly released without fanfare - of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

The report, Settlement Outcomes of New Arrivals: Report of findings, was released last year by the department. The report's bland title is a give-away - vacuous, alliterative titles for government reports are virtually de rigueur these days. (Think: Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia.) The results on settlement outcomes are ugly.

Using the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia, the research describes the position of the three key groups of migrants five years after settlement: skilled, family and humanitarian.

In keeping with the findings of previous research, it is absolutely clear that refugees fare very badly in terms of employment and financial self-sufficiency. And note that this study was conducted during a period of low overall unemployment.

For example, the employment rate of humanitarian migrants from Afghanistan was recorded at only 9 per cent - note this is not the unemployment rate - five years after settlement and nearly 94 per cent of households from Afghanistan received Centrelink payments.

According to the report, "Afghans have a different settlement experience compared with most other cultural groups, such as having poorer English skills and lower qualifications levels. Yet they are more likely to borrow money, obtain mortgages and experience difficulties in paying them."

Those from Iraq did little better, with 12 per cent employed and 93 per cent of households in receipt of Centrelink payments. Interestingly, those who did best in the humanitarian group were from Central and West African countries such as Sierra Leone.

Note that these refugees are the least likely to have arrived by boat.

For the sake of typical bureaucratic "balance", the report notes that "given that we are exploring only the first five years of settlement in this study, [The low proportion in employment] is not a surprising result as many humanitarian entrants are strongly focused on creating a new life, and studying for a qualification is an important step in this journey".

But the comparisons with those entering under the other visa categories - and who are also focused on creating a new life - are stark.

Whereas the overall proportion of humanitarian migrant households in receipt of Centrelink payment was 85 per cent, the figure for the family group was 38 per cent and 28 per cent for the skilled group.

In other words, humanitarian migrant households were three times more likely to receive Centrelink payments than skilled migrant households, five years after settlement. (Note that skilled migrants are not entitled to receive Centrelink payments for the first two years of their residence.) Moreover, skilled migrants were more than five times likely to be in employment than refugees.

So how should policy-makers interpret these results?

The first point to note is that there must be a strict limit to the numbers allowed to enter under the humanitarian visa category given the drain on public finances.

The fact that the numbers were kept at about 13,750 for so long probably is a reflection of this reality. The recent increase in the quota to 20,000 is likely to cause an additional strain on both the federal and state budgets.

The second point is to open the debate about whether a portion of the humanitarian intake should be reserved for those prepared to pay a bond to obtain permanent residence.

Indeed, this has been suggested by Gary Becker. "Given these realities of free immigration, the best alternative to the present system is charging a price that clears the market. That is why I believe countries should sell the right to immigrate."

We have clear evidence that some refugees are prepared to pay people-smugglers to facilitate a speedy entry to Australia.

It therefore seems an obvious policy alternative to allocate a certain number of humanitarian places to proven refugees who are prepared to pay and/or forgo welfare benefits for a period of time.

There is clearly not a particularly strong correlation between refugee status and ability to pay, given the numbers of refugees who have paid people-smugglers to reach Australia.

Surely it would be preferable that this money is paid to the Australian government, rather than to people-smugglers offering travel on rickety boats.

The money raised could be used to benefit refugees who cannot pay.

In the light of the arrival of over 2000 asylum-seekers by boat since the government announced the change of policy to deter boat arrivals - a policy which looks set to fail - there is a clear and urgent case for some lateral thinking.


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