Tuesday, October 17, 2006
SANTA ANA, Calif. - The state attorney general's office is investigating a letter received by some Southern California Hispanics that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote and tells them they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls next month.
"It's a very malicious and degrading letter. It's to pull Latinos down and make them afraid," said Benny Diaz, who is running for City Council in Garden Grove. He said his wife and five other people he knows had received the letter.
The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "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 truth is that immigrants who become naturalized citizens can legally register to vote.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, said the letter was "something we are investigating aggressively right now." He said the sender could be charged with a felony and receive up to three years in state prison.
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.