The notion was first conceived in May when a Tea Party group organized to advance voter suppression laws, True The Vote, emailed supporters to warn that if immigration reform passes, it could result in “millions of fraudulent voters.” “If this bill passes,” founder Catherine Englebrecht warned, “millions of newly legalized immigrants could overwhelm local and state election offices.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) took the idea one step further on the radio Monday, arguing on Wallbuilders Live that once immigration reform passes, President Obama will simply wave a magic wand and “grant wholesale voting rights way ahead of whatever the bill says.”
BACHMANN: I also think that we could be very disappointed if the Republicans in particular take some foolish actions. One of those foolish actions would be to grant a legalization status to illegal immigrants. I think that that would be foolish to do right now. The House right now is looking at passing an immigration bill that would give amnesty literally to tens of millions of illegal aliens. If they do that, I believe we’re going to see the President step in and the Senate step in and I think that they’re going to grant wholesale voting rights way ahead of whatever the bill says – voting rights can come into play – because we’ve seen this president just make law by virtue of a press conference or standing in front of a microphone.
Listen to it:
Currently, undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be able to become citizens (and thus gain voting rights) for at least 13 years under the Senate immigration reform bill. Still, GOP fears of more Latino voters has become a theme in the ongoing immigration debate; last month, Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) explained that he opposes reform because it could lead to more Latino voters, who he feels will invariably vote Democratic.
On the one hand, Bachmann’s theory of a dictatorial president is so laughable that it needn’t be dignified with a rebuttal. Indeed, arguments like this one about fraudulent non-citizen voting — despite the fact that such fraud is virtually non-existent — are often just tactics to advance voter suppression tactics like voter roll purges.
But for amusement’s sake, let’s take Bachmann’s argument — that in a post-immigration reform world, 11 million immigrants will be allowed to vote before they become citizens — at face value. This would entail one of three possibilities: First, President Obama becomes Dictator Obama whose every whim becomes law. Second, Obama and the Democratic-led Senate conspire to dissolve the Republican-held House of Representatives and pass legislation solely through the upper legislative branch and the executive. Third, a bill granting voting rights to immigrants before they become citizens somehow gains majority support — virtually no one in power currently supports this proposal — is passed by both branches of Congress, and is signed by the president.
Given these possibilities, the question becomes which is more likely: Obama becomes a dictator? Obama and the Senate conspire to dissolve the House? Congress and Obama collectively agree to support a policy that almost nobody supports? Or that Bachmann is making all this up to scare Republican activists into opposing immigration reform?