Photo ID Laws the Real Reason for Invalidating PR Birth Certificates?

Perhaps you remember the mini-controversy engendered by the ridiculously unnecessary law enacted by Puerto Rico’s PNP government in 2010 that invalidated all Puerto Rican birth certificates and gave anyone born in Puerto Rico the burden of getting a new one at the cost of $5 a pop (excluding those on government assistance and senior citizens)? Why this sudden move, and the subterfuge and misinformation surrounding it? Was this just about making life difficult for Puerto Rican senior citizens (like my own parents), or was it about the ALEC agenda of voter suppression in the 50 states?

Maybe your recall that the premise for this law was created by the government continuously repeating a lie that 40 per cent of all identity theft cases in the U.S. are caused by fraudulent Puerto Rican birth certificates. Further elaboration can be found in my post here, and again, I’m reproducing below the 2010 press release from the Puerto Rico Department of State that says, “McClintock Hernández [the Secretary of State] sostuvo sue Puerto Rico provoca el 40 pro ciento de los cases de robo sde identidad con certificates de nacimiento en toda la nación Americana.” The translation is “McClintock Hernández maintained that Puerto Rico causes 40 per cent of the identity theft cases in the entire American nation with birth certificates.”

So I’m going to ask the rhetorical question again, who in their right mind (or who has a law degree and has held various significant political offices) would believe the assertion that 40 per cent of all cases of identity theft in the entire United States could be caused by people using fraudulent Puerto Rican birth certificates? Which then begs the question, why the rush to pass this law, which has the effect of making it very difficult for people without resources, transportation, or the elderly, to have a copy of their birth certificate, crucial in establishing their identity to drive, open a bank account, uh, vote?

Hmmm, vote. The other day I ran into this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that documents the difficulties faced by Pennsylvania residents who happen to have been in Puerto Rico and whose birth certificates were invalidated! I’m quoting from the article here:

The flood of requests swamped Puerto Rico’s vital-statistics office. Some people simply gave up on the process. Now, 16 weeks out from Election Day, they have to rush to get new certificates. Provided they receive them in the mail in time, they then have to use them to apply for a PennDot-issued ID, the most common type of photo ID.

“That’s two significant barriers to the ballot,” says civil rights attorney Juan Carlos Ibarra.

Here’s another piece about the same problem, and this is a quote from it:

Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Jorge Santana says it could make it tougher for some voters to get the paperwork necessary to apply for that photo ID.

“They’re concerned about not being able to vote because they don’t have an ID and they don’t know how to do that,” he said. “So it’s just an extra level of applications and paperwork that others don’t have to go though.”

So here you have Kenneth McClintock, nominally of the Democratic Party, enforcing the agenda of Governor Luis Fortuño, hardcore Republican (unless it has to do with Federal funds targeted to Puerto Rico). It’s an agenda of voter suppression of Puerto Ricans not on the island, but living in the U.S. Where else are Puerto Ricans from the island residing in large numbers and providing a significant challenge the political hegemony of conservative Cuban-Americans ? Florida. Kind of a key state, isn’t it? Sounds like a job for the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.


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