Obama Didn’t Endorse Illegal Voting, But There’s Plenty Wrong With What He Did Say

By The Stream Published on November 7, 2016

At least two FOX Business News hosts have claimed that President Barack Obama told illegal immigrants to vote in an interview with actress Gina Rodriguez late last week. The first was Neil Cavuto; the second was Stuart Varney.

Snopes was quick to pronounce it “False,” but their pronouncement seemed overly hasty. So what’s the truth?

It’s complicated. What seems to have happened is that Rodriguez asked a question, in which she claimed that illegal immigrants are citizens, and Obama answered a slightly different question. That only becomes clear later in the interview, however. Initially, it sounds like he is agreeing with her false premise, and encouraging illegals to vote.

Unfortunately, FOX Business ran a clip of the interview that did not include all of Obama’s comments (which, frankly, were garbled). When one listens to the entire interview two or three times, however, the more natural interpretation is that Obama is encouraging Latino citizens to vote, even if they have family members who are illegal immigrants. But the exchange is confusing. (See the full interview below.)

Here’s the relevant interchange (which starts at 3:23 in the interview):

RODRIGUEZ: Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens — and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country — are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us?

OBAMA: Not true. And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, et cetera. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote.

RODRIGUEZ: This has been a huge fear presented especially during this election.

OBAMA: And the reason that fear is promoted is because they don’t want people voting. People are discouraged from voting and part of what is important for Latino citizens is to make your voice heard, because you’re not just speaking for yourself. You’re speaking for family members, friends, classmates of yours in school …

RODRIGUEZ: Your entire community.

OBAMA: … who may not have a voice. Who can’t legally vote. But they’re counting on you to make sure that you have the courage to make your voice heard.

What Else Obama (and Rodriguez) Said

There’s still plenty to object to in the interview. While Obama didn’t encourage illegal immigrants to vote, Rodriguez did. She also made the emotionally charged, but false, statement that citizenship is determined by those who “contribute to this country.”

Rodriguez and Obama also seemed to agree, in another part of the interview, that there is no fraud at the election booth, with the president emphatically saying “No” when asked about it.

Moreover, Obama said that “people are discouraged from voting” and that “fear is promoted … because they don’t want people voting.” While voter ID laws and other measures are locked in court battles across the country, many of the laws challenged by liberals (and the Obama administration) merely require voters to show proof of citizenship via a photo identification.

This is hardly a rerun of the Jim Crow era, especially with the growing circumstantial evidence of widespread voter fraud. And even Obama said just moments later that not everyone can vote, and moments earlier had said “when you vote, you are a citizen yourself.”

Fair Elections?

Obama’s comments came just a few days before the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it will send 500 people to 67 locations in 28 states to oversee voting. The announcement made passing references to stopping illegal voting, but spent far more time outlining how the DOJ plans to make sure people going to the polls aren’t blocked.

While all legally registered voters should be able to participate in the election process, it is concerning that the DOJ seemed to pass over the threat of illegal voting.

Then again, given the Tea Party targeting scandal of 2012 and the DOJ’s cover-ups for Hillary Clinton this year, why would we expect Obama to uphold fair elections?

Here’s the full interview:

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Robert J. Morgan
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