Home Politics Misinterpretation of 1996 Clinton Immigration Law in Recent Post

Misinterpretation of 1996 Clinton Immigration Law in Recent Post

0
Misinterpretation of 1996 Clinton Immigration Law in Recent Post

The claim: Bill Clinton signed the 1996 law allowing ‘illegal immigrants’ to vote

A May 8 Instagram video (direct link, archive link) shows a person talking a couple of former president’s supposed changes to federal voting rules nearly 30 years ago.

“Did you recognize that under the present U.S. code, illegal immigrants are allowed to vote in U.S. elections?” the person says. “Yes, because of Bill Clinton, who signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.”

The post garnered greater than 600 likes in 4 days. Conservative pundit Tucker Carlson shared the same version of the claim on Facebook and Instagram.

More from the Fact-Check Team: How we pick and research claims | Email newsletter | Facebook page

Our rating: False

The law signed by Clinton explicitly forbids individuals who immigrated to the country illegally from voting in federal elections. Though an amended version of the law includes protections from fines and imprisonment for some individuals who vote illegally, the law still forbids noncitizens from voting in federal, state, and most local elections.

Post misrepresents the 1996 law

Because the user said, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act was signed into law by Clinton in 1996. It furthered steps taken in former President Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 by strengthening immigration laws and enacting criminal penalties for individuals who enter the U.S. illegally and commit crimes.

The 1996 version of the law explicitly forbids “aliens” from voting in federal elections.

“It shall be illegal for any alien to vote in any election held solely or partly for the aim of electing a candidate for the office of president, vp, presidential elector, member of the Senate, member of the House of Representatives, delegate from the District of Columbia or resident commissioner, unless –” the law reads.

The law goes on to list exceptions to the rule, describing specific cases where an “alien” is allowed to vote under a state or local ordinance, the election is partly held for another purpose and the voting is held independently from any federal voting.

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a professor at Harvard Law School, told USA TODAY that the law “definitely doesn’t allow aliens to vote in U.S. elections.”

“It does exactly the other, prohibiting aliens from voting in federal elections,” he said in an email. “The clauses after ‘unless’ just make clear that if a state or locality allows aliens to vote in elections, and people are the one elections through which aliens vote, then there is no violation of the law.”

Bill Hing, a law professor on the University of San Francisco School of Law and the founding director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, told USA TODAY the post’s claim is “ridiculous” and “completely false.” Noncitizens are usually not allowed to vote in federal, state, or most local elections. Only Washington, D.C., and a handful of municipalities in Vermont, Maryland, and California allow noncitizens to vote in local elections, in accordance with Ballotpedia.

Fact check: Struck-down Recent York law allowing non-citizens to vote misrepresented online Clinton’s immigration law was amended in 2000 so as to add exceptions to the criminal penalties, which include fines and imprisonment for as much as a yr. These exceptions include cases where each of the person’s parents are or were U.S. residents, the person permanently resided within the U.S. before the age of 16, or the person “reasonably believed” they were a citizen on the time of voting.

That is the trendy language included within the U.S. code.

Stephanopoulos told USA TODAY that though this clause implies that no federal crime can be committed in these circumstances, the law still doesn’t permit individuals who immigrated to the country illegally to vote in federal or state elections.

“Note also that this federal law merely duplicates state law in every state, which also bars aliens from voting in state elections,” he said.

Hing told USA TODAY that though there’s a set of guidelines one must follow to turn into a U.S. citizen, he had met many purchasers who were unaware of their citizenship status.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but didn’t immediately receive a response.

Our fact-check sources:
Nicholas Stephanopoulos, May 10, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Bill Hing, May 10, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Cornell Law School, Oct. 30, 2000, 18 U.S. Code § 611 – Voting by aliens
Cornell Law School, accessed May 10, Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act
Congress.gov, Nov. 6, 1986, S.1200 – Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
GovInfo, March 20, 2012, PUBLIC LAW 104-208 – SEPT. 30, 1996
GovInfo, March 20, 2012, PUBLIC LAW 106-395 – OCT. 30, 2000
USA.gov, May 2, Who can and can’t vote
Ballotpedia, accessed May 13, Laws permitting noncitizens to vote in the USA

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here