Homeland Security Denies New Citizens Access to Vote

Homeland Security Chief of Staff Blames Republicans in Jacksonville

Miami Beach, FL – Mi Familia Vota (MFV), a non-partisan voter registration effort committed to empowering Hispanic citizens, was denied access to newly naturalized citizens today at the Miami Beach Convention Center ceremonies.

John C. Shewairy, Chief of Staff to the District Director of Homeland Security, notified Mi Familia Vota representatives upon their arrival that despite an earlier agreement with the city of Miami Beach, they would be denied access to the convention center and sidewalks in front of the center.

Shewairy told MFV that he was going to deny new citizens an opportunity to register to vote because of problems that arose in Jacksonville a few weeks ago. Published reports noted that a group of Republican activists in Jacksonville illegally manipulated the voter registration forms of newly naturalized citizens, by giving them registration forms with the party affiliation already checked off as Republican.

Jorge Mursuli, National Director for Mi Familia Vota, said MFV had been previously granted permission to register citizens at the Miami Beach Convention Center, stressed that his organization was nonpartisan.

“At best, this is an over-reaction to an illegal act by a group of partisans in Jacksonville. At worst, it’s an effort to stifle the free, fair and nonpartisan process of voter registration,” Mursuli said. “Tomorrow, we expect the Department of Homeland Security to respect our right to register voters, and our agreement with the city of Miami Beach to register voters inside the convention center.”

“The Department of Homeland Security has no business denying access to a nonpartisan group registering citizens to vote. Our experience tells us that new citizens often do not know how or where to register to vote. We help them with this process, and help them understand that voting is a way to support their communities, and exercise their new rights as citizens,” he added.

Mi Familia Vota is a project of People For the American Way Foundation and the Center for Immigrant Democracy

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