Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

  • Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday called a Democratic-backed voting bill "Jim Crow 2.0."
  • Cruz claims, without evidence, that the bill will register millions of undocumented immigrants.
  • There have been no widespread instances of automatic voter registration leading to that problem.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Sen. Ted Cruz repeatedly called the For the People Act, Democrats' flagship voting rights and democracy reform bill, "Jim Crow 2.0" during a Tuesday Senate markup hearing over the bill.

The reference from Cruz is partly a tongue-in-cheek dig at Democrats, who have dubbed Republican-backed bills in states like Georgia as "Jim Crow 2.0," and part of an unsubstantiated argument from Cruz that the For the People Act would result in millions of undocumented immigrants being put on the voter rolls.

"It is worth remembering that those Jim Crow laws were drafted by Democrats, they were implemented by Democrats, and they kept Democrats in power," Cruz said.

"Now, today's talking point repeated in the media is that was the Democrats of yesterday, not today. Well, today, the Democrats are doing it again, this legislation, to use a phrase that has been popularized on the media recently, is Jim Crow 2.0. This legislation would disenfranchise millions of Americans," he added.

In both his opening remarks, subsequent debate, and in comments to the Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney, Cruz claimed, without providing any evidence, that the bill's provision requiring states to adopt automatic voter registration would lead to undocumented immigrants being registered to vote.

"This legislation is profoundly dangerous and the reason is it suppresses millions of votes by allowing millions of people to vote illegally. That is the intended effect, and that would be the actual effect of this bill. It dilutes the legal votes of American citizens," Cruz said.

Read more: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's side hustle: earning cash as a California winery intern

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently have automatic voter registration and 16 states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In 1993, Congress also passed the National Voter Registration Act, which requires most states to offer people the opportunity to register to vote at motor vehicle offices and public assistance agencies that serve citizens and non-citizens alike.

And still, instances of undocumented immigrants registering to vote at all, much less through the automatic voter registration process, are extremely rare.

Not only do many undocumented immigrants avoid interacting with government agencies altogether, but motor vehicle agencies have specific procedures for giving licenses to non-citizens that ensure that they aren't registered to vote or offered the opportunity to do so.

As VoteBeat's Jessica Huseman pointed out, every state including Texas also allows non-citizens who are in the US legally to obtain driver's licenses and are able to distinguish between citizen and non-citizen drivers license holders.

Cases of illegal voting by undocumented immigrants are so rare in the first place that there is also no clear basis for Cruz's contention that illegal immigrants would overwhelmingly favor Democrats if they did hypothetically vote.

Read the original article on Business Insider