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Illegal voting. Really? News reports about arguments before the supreme court about a question confirming citizenship on the 2020 census said that Wilbur Ross, who heads the U.S. Department of Commerce, which collects the census data, wanted the question on the ballot in order to enforce the Voter Rights Act. Former Secretaries of Commerce under presidents from both parties filed a brief saying they had never had a need for it. Numerous states and municipalities are concerned that the question will result in an undercount because non-citizens will not answer the questionnaire.

Is there really a huge number of people rushing to the polls to vote who are not citizens? There could be some, but not a statistically significant number. Voter turnout is disappointing to all of us who care deeply about the legitimacy of representative government, and I can see no reason to believe that an individual who knows they are not eligible to vote will go to more trouble to circumvent the system than your average person born in America who has no hoops to jump through.

It’s the Democrats who want all the illegals to vote. Really? Many immigrants are Catholics who don’t support abortion rights. Others come from countries who shun or stone anyone who is LGBT. Many are not buying a party line of looking out for the little guy, a message from someone who is wealthy and connected to Wall Street. Immigrants are just as likely as not to vote Republican. Back in the turn of the 20th century, immigrants could be counted on to be Democrats because officeholders in various cities provided jobs to party stalwarts. The Civil Service movement ended that to a great degree.

The recent Times-News story gave a good look at the problem of citizenship from the point of view of two people going through citizenship classes. Both individuals had not found the process of applying for citizenship to be easy. One had been so busy making good on our promise of profiting by hard work that he had to wait to find the time to attend the required classes. The other had struggled to become fluent enough in English to pass the test. There is also the crippling backlog of immigration decisions in our courts. There is the significant cost of obtaining an immigration attorney. There is also, I am told by attorneys and others who are trying to assist individuals with their applications, scrutiny of the application which could be called nitpicking if applied to an English teacher.

Not everyone who works in the United States even wants to become a citizen (hard to believe, isn’t it?). Some want to gain a nest egg and take it home to practice capitalism on their native soil. Some want to work part of a year and return home when less work is available. Some are still homesick and don’t want to give up the dream of returning to their native country when a government changes or it is safer. If we would only make our immigration system more modern, more fitting of our labor needs, and lately, more humane, our country could gain needed labor and collect taxes they leave behind.

There is a belief, I think, that all citizens are loyal to the country. They strive to fit into the mainstream. They are law abiding and can be trusted more than non-citizens. While that may be generally true, that is certainly not absolutely true. The opposite traits are also not universally true of non-citizens.

The current administrative measures concerning immigration are designed to strongly encourage anyone who could be considered “undesirable” to leave or not come here in the first place. The problem is that, without adequately considered immigration law and policy, there is too much subjectivity in the process. We are a nation of laws, not a nation subject to whim or inconsistency. We need to forget the rhetoric of hate on all sides and, instead, demand that our Congress hammers out laws to bring people into our country legally and make them citizens as soon as they are willing.

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Linda Brugger retired from the Air Force and is a former chairwoman of the Twin Falls County Democrats.

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