As you may know, “Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant who hopes to defeat Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California,” sent out a letter to 14,000 “Spanish-surnamed” Democratic voters in Orange County.
“Written in Spanish, the letter threatens: “You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.”
“The letter evoked memories of the 1988 race for the 71st Assembly District in Orange County, when the local GOP hired uniformed guards to stand in Latino neighborhoods with signs stating, “Non-Citizens Can’t Vote.” Even when it paid an undisclosed sum to settle a lawsuit, the GOP doggedly denied wrongdoing. That is not the case today, as Republicans rush to condemn the letter.”
Governor Schwarzenegger has declared the letter a hate crime. The Republican Party is calling for Nguyen to withdraw.
Here is the text of the letter, an english language translation provided by O.C. Register.
You are being sent this letter because you were recently registered to vote. If you are a citizen of the United States, we ask that you participate in the democratic process of voting.
You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having the right to do so.
At the same time, you are advised that the U.S. government is installing a new computer system to verify the names of all new registered voters that vote in the October and November elections. Anti-immigration organizations can ask for information from this new computer system.
Unlike Mexico, there is no incentive to vote here. There is not a voter-registration card in the United States. Therefore, it is useless and dangerous to vote in any election if you are not a U.S. citizen.
Do not listen to any politician that tells you the opposite. They are only looking out for their own interests. They only want to win elections without regard to what happens to you.
Whomever wrote the letter lied. First, it is legal to vote if you are an immigrant, so long as you are a naturalized citizen. We are a nation of immigrants, many of whom are naturalized citizens — a fact that Nguyen must have forgotten when looking to represent thousands of Latino/a immigrants in OC. Second, “The letter also stated that the federal government had installed a computer system to verify the names of new registered voters and that anti-immigrant groups (of which there is no shortage in California) would be able to access that information. According to the Justice Department, there is no such database.”
Funny how “the Melting Pot” works. Here we have a political battle of immigrants; a Vietnamese man running against a Latina for U.S. Congress and what do we find? Ethnic based voter intimidation, but not from some white majority, but by an immigrant himself.
America is no melting pot. It is a series of factionalizations with some shared values and many more divisions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; we can celebrate diversity and see it as a strength. However, we also get racism, ethnic intimidation, and other social ills. We can also see how ethnic divisions can be used to intimidate, rather than enlighten.