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How Biden’s Paroles of Migrants Could Prompt Illegal Voter Registration

President Joe Biden’s parole policy allows up to 30,000 migrants a month into the U.S. with temporary legal status although they wouldn’t normally qualify for visas.

By: Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

The Biden administration’s expanded mass parole program for illegal immigrants could threaten lawful voter registration, election law and border experts contend.

Under President Joe Biden’s parole system—which targets illegal aliens from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—up to 30,000 migrants per month who wouldn’t normally qualify for a visa may use a U.S. government app on their cellphones to gain parole and either cross the border or fly into the United States.

“That means they are eligible to work and eligible to get a Social Security number. It just massively increases the number of Social Security numbers for people who are not here legally,” Cleta Mitchell, chairwoman of the Election Integrity Network, told The Daily Signal.

“This administration has a duty to direct the Social Security Administration to be able to tell states that just because somebody gets a Social Security number doesn’t mean they are a citizen.”

The app used by illegal aliens is called CBP One, referring to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Paroled migrants are eligible for work permits in the United States, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which, like CBP, is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Those seeking work will be eligible for Social Security numbers, according to the Social Security Administration.

Under a U.S. law called the Help America Vote Act, a Social Security number may be used by someone who registers to vote.

Several states also allow the last four digits of a Social Security number to be used as voter identification on absentee or mail-in ballots.

The citizenship status of those providing the Social Security numbers wouldn’t be known by local voter registrars, Mitchell noted.

“The Social Security Administration should know if they are parolees or what their status is. They should know that and share that with the states,” Mitchell, also a senior legal fellow at the Conservative Partnership Institute, told The Daily Signal. “The Social Security Administration should separate those numbers so that states are verifying the last four [digits].”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., announced in an April 12 press conference with former President Donald Trump that he would introduce legislation to require proof of citizenship for voting.

Someone granted temporary legal status in the U.S. with work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security gets a Social Security card that says: “VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION,” Social Security Administration spokesperson Nilsa Henriquez said.

“Under the Help America Vote Act, when a voter registrant does not have a driver’s license, states are permitted to submit the voter registrant’s name, date of birth, and last four digits of their Social Security number (SSN) to SSA for verification,” Henriquez told The Daily Signal in an email.

“Social Security provides the verification to the requesting state through the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ … AAMVAnet network,” Henriquez added. “We developed the Help America Vote Verification (HAVV), which provides real-time verification of the submitted information, including name, date of birth, and last four digits of the SSN, and an indication of whether our records show the individual as deceased.”

This verification “doesn’t provide citizenship information,” nor does it give “authority to provide the requesting state citizenship information,” she said.

In addition to a vote on a citizenship verification bill promised by the House speaker, the House Administration Committee advanced the Protecting American Voters Act, sponsored by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. Roy’s bill includes a provision requiring the Social Security Administration to provide states with information to verify citizenship.

Roy’s bill also would require the Department of Homeland Security to provide states with free access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, or SAVE, which has data on who is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

“The Department of Homeland Security has been very uncooperative with states,” Mitchell told The Daily Signal. “They’ve made them sign very cumbersome and expensive agreements to be able to have access to the database. Unless there is a way to do the comparison to the voter rolls in bulk, it’s pretty useless.”

The Biden administration could take executive action to make the SAVE system more accessible to state and local election officials, Mitchell said.

“The Department of Homeland Security already is under a federal statutory requirement to give access to election officials to the SAVE database,” the Election Integrity Network’s Mitchell told The Daily Signal. “That is used for determining when an alien becomes eligible for public benefits. The Biden administration has screwed that up as well.”

Opponents of citizenship requirements contend there is no evidence of illegal immigrants voting. A recent article on left-leaning National Public Radio’s website declared voting by noncitizens a “myth” and argued that “it’s becoming clear that a key 2024 voting boogeyman will be immigration.”

What’s different is that, under Biden’s parole program, those who otherwise would be illegal aliens gain temporary legal status in the United States, which allows this population to access Social Security numbers. It remains illegal for noncitizens to vote in federal elections, but the parole program could make such a violation more difficult to track.

The Heritage Foundation’s database of election fraud cases shows 21 adjudicated cases of ineligible voters casting votes from 2003 to 2023. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.)

A 2014 study from professors at Old Dominion University and George Mason University estimated that about 6.4% of noncitizens voted in the 2008 presidential election and 2.2% voted in the 2010 midterm elections.

The Biden administration has granted parole to at least 1 million illegal immigrants, according to The Associated Press. This policy was expanded under the “Parole Plus Alternatives to Detention” program, which the government calls “Parole+ATD.”

“Illegal aliens are absolutely a threat in voter registration in a number of ways,” says Lora Ries, director of the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation. “It could be through Social Security numbers or it could be through voter registration with driver’s licenses under the Motor Voter law.”

Ries, former deputy acting chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security, contends that states have an increased burden to watch for these potential new voters.

“It could depend on what the state laws are and if [a state] keeps its voter rolls up to date to ensure noncitizens or the deceased are removed,” she said.

In March, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by 21 states, led by Texas, in opposition to Biden’s parole program for illegal aliens. U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton of the Southern District of Texas ruled that the states lacked standing, but wrote: “In reaching this conclusion, the court does not address the lawfulness of the program.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security didn’t reply to inquiries from The Daily Signal for this report.

The website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, another DHS subagency, says: “We may, at our discretion, grant a parolee temporary employment authorization, if it is not inconsistent with the purpose and duration of their parole.”

The website for the Social Security Administration says: “Generally, only noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get an SSN [Social Security number]. SSNs are used to report a person’s wages to the government and to determine that person’s eligibility for Social Security benefits.”

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas—impeached by the House for failure to secure the southern border—said his department isn’t responsible for ensuring that noncitizens don’t vote.

“Congressman, individuals who are not citizens of the United States cannot vote in federal elections,” Mayorkas said in response to a question.

The homeland security secretary later added: “I believe that it is state and local election officials that monitor the eligibility of individuals. We do not oversee the election enrollment process. What we do is enforce our borders.”

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