Did Obama Encourage Illegal Immigrants to Vote? No, But YES.

In an interview highlighted by Fox Business News' Neil Cavuto that's gone viral, President Barack Obama seems to encourage illegal immigrants to vote. In response to an ambiguously phrased question about illegal immigrants and voting, Obama gives an equivocal answer that many have interpreted as an open call for illegals to illegally vote.

In an interview (below) with actress and rapper Gina Rodriguez — a Chicago-born American citizen whose parents are Puerto Rican — Obama discussed the supposed attempts by the Right to suppress voting rights and tried to encourage Latinos to get to the polls. The eyebrow-raising moment came when Rodriguez told the president that "millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens" are "fearful of voting," then asked if some like her were to vote, would immigration authorities be able to track her down and "come for my family and deport us."

Obama answered emphatically that it's "Not true" that voting could open up someone to being more easily tracked by the government.

Because of the convoluted phrasing of the question, though, it's unclear if Rodriguez is asking if an illegal immigrant should fear voting, or someone like herself, a citizen with illegals apparently in her family, should fear voting to protect her family. After his initial response, Obama notes that Rodriguez is a citizen and indicates that he means those with "a family member who maybe is undocumented."

Here's the first part of the exchange:

RODRIGUEZ: Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens -- and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country -- are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us?

OBAMA: Not true. And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, et cetera. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote.

Rodriguez then repeats that being tracked by immigration is a "huge fear" among those with illegals in their family. Obama then emphasizes that it is particularly important for people with illegal family members and friends to vote because their "speaking for family members, friends, classmates":

RODRIGUEZ: This has been a huge fear presented especially during this election.

OBAMA: And the reason that fear is promoted is because they don't want people voting. People are discouraged from voting and part of what is important for Latino citizens is to make your voice heard, because you're not just speaking for yourself. You're speaking for family members, friends, classmates of yours in school...

RODRIGUEZ: Your entire community.

OBAMA: ... who may not have a voice. Who can't legally vote. But they're counting on you to make sure that you have the courage to make your voice heard.

Regardless of the exact phrasing, the president's general point is clear: There will be no immigration backlash for those who vote.

Exchange begins at the 3:23 mark (full transcript of segment below):

RODRIGUEZ: Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens -- and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country -- are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us?

OBAMA: Not true. And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, et cetera. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote.

RODRIGUEZ: This has been a huge fear presented especially during this election.

OBAMA: And the reason that fear is promoted is because they don't want people voting. People are discouraged from voting and part of what is important for Latino citizens is to make your voice heard, because you're not just speaking for yourself. You're speaking for family members, friends, classmates of yours in school...

RODRIGUEZ: Your entire community.

OBAMA: ... who may not have a voice. Who can't legally vote. But they're counting on you to make sure that you have the courage to make your voice heard.

After playing a clip of the interview late last week, Cavuto brought on former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for a follow-up discussion.

"I can’t believe that I heard what I heard!" said the FBN host. "It was very clear that the question that was being asked was about illegals voting and them being afraid they might be reported to Border Security."

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