As Jonathan noted this morning, the Associated Press has uncovered how one group in Washington state is recruiting illegal immigrants to campaign door-to-door for Democratic candidates facing upsets in midterm election races on Nov. 2:
Pramila Jayapal, head of OneAmerica Votes, says the campaign is about empowering immigrants who may not feel like they can contribute to a campaign because they can’t vote.
Not only can individuals living in America illegally not vote, they're also prohibited from contributing money to political campaigns. I'm not an expert in election law, but I do remember how then-Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign was forced to return a $265 donation from Zeituni Onyango, his aunt who had been living in the United States illegally for years. In a grey area of the law, shouldn't volunteering time and talent also be considered a kind of "contribution" or "donation" to a campaign?
OneAmerica may skirt around these election laws because they are not an official arm of any one candidate's campaign. However, as a 501(c)(3) organization, the Internal Revenue Service says they are prohibited from participating in political campaigns:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.
[N]o organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying)…
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
A group like OneAmerica might get around these rules by conducting certain non-partisan "voter education activities," however, according to the Associated Press, the group is "trying to get naturalized citizens to cast a ballot for candidates like Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who is in a neck-to-neck race with Republican Dino Rossi."
“Immigrants really do matter,” Jayapal said. “If we can’t vote ourselves, we’re gonna knock on doors, or get family members to vote.”
I'm all for everyone (all legally eligible citizens, that is) voting and contributing, but where do we draw the line? On Nov. 2, voters in two American cities will vote whether to allow non-citizens to vote in certain elections. In Portland, Maine, a ballot proposal could allow legal immigrants who have not yet obtained citizenship to vote in municipal elections. Likewise in San Francisco, a proposition would allow all parents of public school students to vote in school elections, regardless of legal status.
In the case of OneAmerica, Stanley Renshon of the Center for Immigration Studies observes:
What’s wrong with illegal immigrants taking part in the political process by trying to convince others to vote for pro-legalization candidates? Legally, as noted, nothing; ethically a great deal. ...
They have no legal standing as members of the American national community and no moral standing, either, since they are present only by virtue of their own decision to violate American immigration laws.
Finally, I feel compelled to point out liberals' incredible hypocrisy here.
According to their annual reports, Jayapal's OneAmerica (formerly Hate Free Zone) receives funding from a number of liberal individuals and interest groups, including George Soros' Open Society Institute, Planned Parenthood, SEIU, the Tides Foundation and a number of various union organizations.
While Democratic Party officials -- including President Barack Obama -- are out on the stump complaining about conservative groups who allegedly accept funds from foreign groups and labeling them a "threat to democracy," what's to be said about liberal interest groups using actual people from other countries to push their political agenda?