LULAC lawsuit helps stalls initiative requiring Texans to prove citizenship before voting

Jim Lefko

News 4 San Antonio

Jan 30, 2019

SAN ANTONIO - The state of Texas is following Donald Trump’s lead in trying to keep Latinos from the polls. That’s the opinion of attorney Luis Vera, Jr., who is suing the Texas Secretary of State and Attorney General on behalf of LULAC.

"This is nothing more than voter intimidation," Vera said. "It's voter suppression. They're trying to scare people who are registered to vote to get off. They're trying to keep people from registering to vote and they are trying to keep people from actually showing up at the polls.”

Vera, general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens,, filed suit in federal court Tuesday to get the state to stop trying to cull over 95,000 people from the state's voter rolls.

The action came in response to an order Friday from secretary of state David Whitley and Attorney General Ken Paxton challenging the citizenship of close to 100,000 Texans. The state obtained its information from people obtaining driver's licenses or personal identification cards from the Department of Public Safety.

"These things tend to be just a complete lie," Vera said. "This is just another form of trying to suppress the Latino vote.”

A statement from the Secretary of State's office said: "“As part of the process of ensuring that no eligible voters are impacted by any list maintenance activity, we are continuing to provide information to the counties to assist them in verifying eligibility of Texas voters. This is to ensure that any registered voters who provided proof of citizenship at the time they registered to vote will not be required to provide proof of citizenship as part of the counties’ examination.”

In response to the suit, some counties have taken a cautious approach to the state’s initiative. As many as 5,100 people could be on the state's list of Bexar County residents who may have to prove their citizenship or lose their right to vote.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has called for a stoppage of the state's plan, for now.

"We have advised our elections administrator to pause on issuing verification letters and only proceed when the suit is more fully developed and we have a better understanding of our obligations under the law,” he said in a statement.

Vera said he met with a woman from Atascosa County on Wednesday who had one of the letters requiring her to prove citizenship with either a certified birth certificate, passport or citizenship papers within 30 days. Failure to comply would lead to cancellation of her voter registration.

"She's very intimidated. She's very scared," Vera said. "She begins to question herself."

The German woman is a permanent resident, Vera said.

Vera, who called Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott "little puppets for Donald Trump," predicted the overall state number will eventually decrease to just a few thousand.

"They knew this from the very beginning. We just called their bluff,," Vera said.

"This may be a Latino fight right now, but tomorrow it's going to be you."

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