Non-Citizens May Not Have “The Vision Thing”

Written by Jane Ryan Carrell

Chicago Tribune writer Eric Zorn has offered a new paradigm for U.S. elections. Zorn says, “Let’s give Green Card holders (non-citizens who have legal status to reside permanently and work in the U.S.) voting rights. After all, they pay taxes!” His January 23rd column is titled, “Jesse White’s blunder makes me want to ask, what’s so terrible about allowing non-citizens to vote?

The column was precipitated by the news that Illinois’ automatic voter registration system, which is in effect at driver’s license facilities and other state agencies, had mistakenly registered 545 non-citizens who had interacted with a state agency. Some states have an OPT-IN system of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), while Illinois chose to be OPT-OUT. In an Opt-In system, in use in most states, the person must state that they wish to be registered to vote. In an Opt-Out system, if the person fails to make clear that they don’t wish to register to vote, voilà! Their data will be forwarded to the Secretary of State for voter registration.

Zorn notes that current law prohibits non-citizens from voting, and if they are found to have voted, the penalty is deportation.

There are inherent problems with Illinois’ OPT-OUT system of Automatic Voter Registration. For someone just learning English, it’s too easy to become automatically registered. Failing to understand the clerk asking him if he wants to be registered to vote, the non-English speaker might well nod in agreement. Why upset the person with the power to provide them their driver’s license or SNAP benefit (formerly called the Food Stamp Program)?

Eric Zorn’s main premise is that the interests of permanent non-citizen residents would not be different from those who have been naturalized or are U.S. citizens by birth.

Immigrants pay taxes and in some cases own property, serve in our military and volunteer for political campaigns. Many are hoping to become citizens one day. Their interest in the laws that govern them is similar in nearly all ways to the interests of U.S. citizens.

I beg to differ with his premise. What vision of government does a green card holder from Mexico have? Mexicans have experienced a completely corrupt political system, essentially run by drug lords. Their experiences with Mexican police are terrifying, since many police are servants of a drug cartel. Immigrants from South American countries are more likely to embrace socialism as the cure for what ails the poor. Whether or not these non-citizens pay taxes, do I really want them to vote?

The same could be said of immigrants from Great Britain, Sweden, or Italy. We can’t expect them to understand or embrace the American ideal simply because they reside here. Those who do embrace the American Experiment go on to apply for citizenship.

What does it mean to be a country? Don’t countries educate their citizens, attempting to inculcate a sense of identity? (America used to, but that may not be so true anymore. The Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum has been rewritten by 8 leftist academics.)

No, Mr. Zorn. Perhaps I should call you generous for your willingness to place the future direction of our nation (to some small extent) into the hands of non-citizens. Or maybe I should call you unpatriotic. You floated the concept, but I’m not buying it. Let those who love the American Experiment in individual liberty become naturalized citizens and vote.


Jane Ryan Carrell, a graduate of Loyola of New Orleans and Brown University, has written on various topics including election fraud, right-to-life, and climate change. She is a past president of Winnebago County Right to Life and a former board member of the Illinois Federation for Right to Life. She serves on the board of the Illinois Conservative Union.