National Immigrant Rights Coalition Warns of Attacks on Voting Rights Via Post Office and USCIS

National Immigrant Rights Coalition Warns of Attacks on Voting Rights Via Post Office and USCIS

 Exterior signage on the front of the United States Post Office building in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 25, 2017. – SCOTTSDALE, AZ – MAY 25 (Shutterstock)

On August 24, the House Oversight Committee held an emergency hearing on efforts to use the U.S. Postal Service as a voter suppression tactic to delay mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy answered questions from lawmakers regarding the removal of thousands of collection boxes and mail sorting machines throughout the nation last week but gave no assurances the problem would be remedied. In response, Nicole Melauku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, a national coalition of 41 immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 37 states, released the following statement:

“The measures from the Trump administration that work to deliberately limit mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic echo voter suppression tactics by authoritarian regimes throughout the world. These tactics infringe on the fundamental right to vote, especially in communities of color where the COVID-19 virus has hit especially hard. These moves are inexcusable. During these times, we need to be educating our communities about their voting rights and mail-in options, not using federal agencies to limit those rights. That is the reason why we launched the New American Voters 2020 campaign – to encourage the millions of newly naturalized citizens to vote by mail or safely in person.

 

At the same time, before the post office was used as a political tool, there was the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services as a roadmap for federal disenfranchisement. USCIS has a backlog of over 700,000 citizenship applications
with processing delays exceeding 20 and even 30 months in some offices. These delays are preventing would-be voters from naturalizing and being eligible to vote. While Congress should hold the administration for what it’s trying to do with the post office, it should also hold the administration accountable for what it’s trying to do with USCIS. This means preventing the furloughs of over 13,000 public service workers at USCIS, which would create more suffering during this public health and economic crisis and effectively shutting down USCIS operations and immigration applications as the presidential election nears. It also means ensuring that Congressional funding for
the agency as part of the next coronavirus-related legislation includes strong accountability conditions or guardrails
like halting the proposed rule to increase application fees and eliminate most fee waivers.”

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