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Authorities probes letter telling Hispanics that immigrants cannot legally vote in U.S.

Authorities probes letter telling Hispanics that immigrants cannot legally vote in U.S.

State authorities are investigating a letter some Los Angeles-area Hispanic residents that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote and warns they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls during the legislative elections next month.
The letter, written in Spanish, also says that the state has developed a computer system that will make it easy to track down the names of Hispanic voters.
"You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time," the letter says.
Local officials said the note, which was sent to Hispanics in Orange County, was degrading and intimidating, and asked state and federal officials to step in.
"You can't help but feel disgusted with the contents of this letter I'm not just going to sit silent," said state Democratic Sen. Gloria Romero, who is up for re-election in November.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, said the letter was "something we are investigating aggressively right now."
The sender could be charged with a felony and receive up to three years in state prison, he said.
The note's letterhead resembles that of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, a Huntington Beach-based group that advocates for stricter border controls, among other things.
But the group's founder, Barbara Coe, said she did not know the person who signed the letter, did not authorize it and was unaware of anyone in her group who did.
It "puts a shadow on our credibility, that we would target certain people who might be citizens of our country," she was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times in its Tuesday edition.
Coe's group was investigated by the FBI in 1996 and 1998 because members held signs near polls stating only citizens can vote.
Several of the people who received the letters appeared to be naturalized citizens, said John Trasvina, interim president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Naturalized citizens can register to vote.
Benny Diaz, a Garden Grove City Council candidate, said his wife received the letter, as well as at least five others with Hispanic surnames he knows.
"It's a very malicious and degrading letter. It's to pull Latinos down and make them afraid," he said.


Updated : 2021-10-23 02:16 GMT+08:00