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September 01, 2011 03:49 PM UTC

No evidence to back Coffman's claim that Obama is flooding voter rolls with illegal immigrants

  • by: Jason Salzman

(Coffman is embracing his inner Tancredo – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Mother Jones picks up the story:

[I]s there anything to it? Jason Salzman, a Colorado blogger, took Coffman’s suggestion and looked into it. The short answer is no. That’s the longer answer, too.

As Salzman notes, undocumented immigrants can’t be moved through the citizenship process, because a prerequisite of applying for citizenship is that you have to be living here legally. The number of fee waivers that have been granted have increased, but again, there’s no way to grant a fee waiver to someone who isn’t a lawful resident so that’s kind of moot; the change is due to the fact that there wasn’t previously an easy way to apply. And most crucially, there hasn’t actually been an increase in the number of naturalized citizens…


On the Caplis and Silverman show Aug. 19, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) accused the Obama administration of speeding up the citizenship process for illegal immigrants, so they can become U.S. citizens in time for the 2012 election.

Even in today’s world of nonstop political attacks, that’s a serious accusation.

It came as Coffman was discussing Obama’s decision to de-prioritize deportations of illegal immigrants who pose no security threat. This, Coffman said, was just “one piece of the puzzle.”

“There’s another piece of this puzzle,” Coffman continued. “What the Administration is doing, is taking a very aggressive move in the people that have illegal status and moving them through citizenship and waving all the fees and waving anything they can to get the process done in time for 2012. That’s something I would love to see the media focus on.”

I thought I’d take Coffman up on his request, since Caplis and Silverman let his salvo fly out the window unchallenged.

If you take two minutes to glance at the basic guidelines for becoming a U.S. citizen, it’s immediatly clear that illegal immigrants need not apply to be citizens, much less get their immigration fees waived. You have to be in the U.S. legally to qualify for consideration. With rare exceptions, you have to be a legal permanent resident (also known as a holder of a “green-card“), for three-to-five years to meet our country’s citizenship requirements.

So, unless I’m missing something, Coffman’s allegation about about Obama rushing “illegal immigrants” onto the voting rolls has to be a pure falsehood.

I also couldn’t find any proof that Obama is waiving fees to speed up the naturalization process for legal immigrants, in a secret effort to influence the 2012 election.

If Coffman were right about this, Obama’s co-conspirators would be found at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that handles immigration, including fee waivers.

Asked whether her agency was speeding up the processing of citizenship applications in advance of 2012, Angelica M. Alfonso-Royals, Deputy Chief of the USCIS Office of Communications, stated via email:

The suggestion that USCIS has accelerated either the processing of citizenship cases or the processing of fee waiver requests for any reason is without merit. To this point, USCIS, back in 2009, solicited feedback and heard stakeholder concerns regarding a standard and consistent fee waiver policy. This feedback informed the creation of a new fee waiver form in 2010 that provides transparency and consistency, allowing us to better serve financially disadvantaged individuals seeking immigration benefits. That said, each individual case is unique and decided based solely on its merits.

Alfonso-Royals sent me figures showing that her agency, under Obama, has granted more fee waivers for people seeking to be full U.S. citizens than it did under Bush. So far this fiscal year, about 45,000 fees for the citizenship application (the N-400 form) have been waived , 19,000 were waived in FY 2010,  7,000 in FY 2009, 8,000 in FY 2008, and 5.000 in FY 2007.

The USCIS charges fees, which cover 90 percent of the USCIS budget, for lots of other immigration-related applications, not just for the application for naturalization. For example, there’s an application, with a fee, to obtain a green card. Waivers for all types of fees have increased during the Obama Administration (150,000 total waivers in FY 2011, 101,000 in FY 2010, 64,000 in FY 2009, 51,000 in FY 2008, and 35,000 in FY2007, according to the USCIS).

Fees are waived for individuals facing financial hardship and other criteria, including household income of below 150% of the poverty level. (Here’s the fee-waiver form. Prior to 2010, applicants could receive fee waivers, but there was no official fee-waiver application form.)

The increased number of fee waivers does not translate into more people actually becoming U.S. citizens with voting rights. The total number of people who went through the naturalization process has decreased during the Obama Administration (about 676.000 in FY 2010, about 744,000 in FY 2009, about 1,047,000 in FY 2008, 660,000 in FY 2007, and 702,000 in FY 2006), according to USCIS data.

Total Naturalized Citizens: Fiscal Years 2001-2010 (source: USCIS)
2010 675,967 2005 604,280
2009 743,715 2004 537,151
2008 1,046,539 2003 463,204
2007 660,477 2002 573,708
2006 702,589 2001 608,205

So in the comfort of the Caplis and Silverman Show, Coffman asked the media to spotlight his accusation about the Obama Administration swelling the voter rolls with illegal immigrants. The radio hosts didn’t do it, so I did, and no matter how you look at it, Coffman’s attack looks like misinformation, based on wrong or incomplete facts.

Caplis and Silverman should set their audience straight on this matter–and other reporters should air out this apparent misinformation further.

Here’s the audio clip of Coffman on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman Aug. 19:


19 thoughts on “No evidence to back Coffman’s claim that Obama is flooding voter rolls with illegal immigrants

  1. even for Coffman, Caplis and Silverman.  Forget the details. The basic premise is completely fabricated.

    Of course there is no citizenship process to be sped up or slowed down  for illegal aliens and therefore also no fees to be waved in this non-existent  situation. Coffman didn’t mislead or misspeak.  He made up a lie and Caplis and Silverman aided and abetted in spreading that obvious, transparent lie, no doubt counting on the ignorance and stupidity of their listeners to miss the completely obvious.  

    1. THe remedy for Craig is ez: google and fact check.

      Then, contact the guest, invite him/her back on and ask the hard question. It’s only a ratings boos if hookers or strippers are involved, but it would the right thing to do anyway- and it would be so easy.

      Meanwhile – its reminds me of one of my fave WC Fields movie lines  –

      Woman: You, sir are drunk.  

      WC: Yes, But you madame are crazy and in the morning I’ll be sober but you’ll be crazy the rest of your life.:

      1. None of the facts or stats he cited matter since he cited them in connection with something that doesn’t exist, a process for illegals to become citizens.  

        For example: Number of illegal immigrants for whom fees are being waved in the citizenship process? Zero.  No illegals may apply. Number of illegals being hurried along to complete citizenship requirements in time for elections?  Zero. No illegals may apply.

        Only possible explanations? Coffman is completely ignorant of laws governing attaining citizenship or Coffman is purposely spreading inflammatory lies.  That’s it. Take your pick. Too stupid to be a Rep or too dishonest.  

        1. science. They never touch the stuff. That’s why ArapG blames Coffman’s error(?) on  something to do with leftie bureaucratic denial instead of the fact that zero, count ’em, illegals get to go through the process to attain citizenship in the first place, with or without fee breaks, special priority fast tracking, complimentary pony rides or any other details he hopes will emerge in connection with something that doesn’t exist.  

  2. You got this story on Mother Jones.

    Just saw an internationally notable Latina journalist post it on Facebook, too.

    Coffman will finally become nationally notable, if only for the fudge heard ’round the world?

    1. make it to the big time?!!  Doug “YouShutUp” Lamborn who just doesn’t get why calling the President a tar baby is a problem, and now Mike “IllegaltoCitizen” Coffman getting publicity all of the country, and beyond.  Makes ya just proud, don’t it?!

  3. Thanks for doing the legwork (phonework? googlework?) those two radio hacks are too lazy and lacking in integrity to do.

    Now it’s up to the Denver Paper and papers in Coffman’s district (the Blade and Independent, maybe) to pick this up and put it in front of the general electorate. We’ll see.

    Coffman’s just another lying, pick-something-out-of-his-ass Republican. Sure lots of them around since that Kenyan got elected president.

  4. Thanks for this hard-hitting piece of journalism.  

    Just got my ProgressNow email, to which I added this to the letter:

    While pandering to the representative’s base is not unusual, this despicable, and easily disproven lie makes me wonder — is it just how GOP politics must be practiced now, or does Rep. Coffman actually believe this nonsense?

    Neither  conclusion bode well for Rep. Coffman, nor his woefully underserved constituents in CD6.  Hopefully, 2013 will arrive with new, more informed and literate representation.  Something the people of CD6 deserve.

  5. he told me that he (a white guy) lives in a small town in Illinois and had always voted but in 2010 when he showed up to vote was the first time they ever checked registration and found he was not EVER registered. He thinks registering is too hard though he likes to vote so he just won’t bother anymore. He is a Tea Puppet and believes the Obama administration conspired to keep him from voting.

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