The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Texas over its plan to closely examine the citizenship status of some 95,000 people who were not U.S. citizens when they obtained the driver's license they used to satisfy the state's Voter ID law, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The state has told local elections officials to investigate the legal status of the individuals, 58,000 of whom have voted in Texas elections between 2008 and 2018, including 5100 in Bexar County.
"We saw something similar in Florida four or five years ago, when they claimed to have found a huge number of non-citizens who were registered to vote," attorney Thomas Buser-Clancy with the ACLU tells News Radio 1200 WOAI.
Buser-Clancy and other groups say this is simply an excuse by Republicans to 'purge' voting rolls of voters who lean Democrat.
He says what happened in Florida is likely to happen in Texas.
"Eventualy, when people had the chance to look at those numbers, it dwindled down to barely any at all who could have potential action taken against them," he said.
The Secretary of State says it obtained the information by searching DPS records, and determining whether individuals who obtained a driver's license presented documents indicating they were not U.S. citizens at the time, like a 'matricula consular' card or a visa. All had to be in the U.S. legally, or they would not have been able to legally obtain a Texs driver's license under state law.
Analysts say they anticipate that the vast majority of the 5100 Bexar County voters who obtained driver's licenses in this matter and then used those licenses to comply with the state's Voter ID law became naturalized U.S. citizens before voting.
Many Democrats say the announcement of by the Secretary of State's office plays into the fears of many conservatives of armies of illegal immigrants marching into Texas and illegally voting in lockstep for Democrats, a phenomenon which they say is frequently repeated by conservative media, but has repeatedly been found to be untrue.
There have been random cases of illegal immigrant voting uncovered, like an Elmendorf resident who was sent to prison for thirty months for voting in Bexar County using an illegally obtained passport for ID, but incidents like this are extremely rare, officials say.