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Non-Citizen Deported for Voting in American Elections

Last week, the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals upheld a decision to deport Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick for voting in a federal election. Fitzpatrick registered to vote in Illinois using the federal "Motor Voter" registration form.

Fitzpatrick’s criminal act is one more example demonstrating that non-citizens voting in American elections is not a  myth. The opinion by the Board of Immigration appeals stated:

On August 5, 2005, she applied for an Illinois driver’s license and signed a voter registration application in which she checked a box indicating that she was a United States citizen.

Fitzpatrick was caught by pure accident. When she submitted her application for naturalization in 2007, she indicated on the form that she had registered to vote and had voted in a U.S. election. DHS opened an investigation proceeding based only upon her voluntary red flag. (By law, voting by a noncitizen is a deportable offense, and there is no intent requirement: it doesn’t matter whether the person knew what they were doing was illegal.) Of course, most illegal foreign voters never admit that they have voted. Fitzpatrick would otherwise have never been caught, and she was only caught several years after her illegal vote was counted as legal.

Some states have enacted citizenship qualifications, and have asked the federal government to amend the federal form which currently does not require any proof of citizenship beyond self-reporting. But many don’t want to amend the form, including the Obama Justice Department. A case is now before the Supreme Court, brought by Kansas and Arizona. A federal bureaucrat had earlier denied the request by those states to amend the federal form and to block aliens from voting.

This isn’t the only area where election integrity is under attack. Some advocate for voter registration forms to be made available and pushed everywhere, and then fight against Voter ID laws and against states that wish to ask for proof of citizenship upon registration. How can they expect fraud and deportation not to be the result? Because of Motor Voter laws, the form is available and pushed in all kinds of places. It was perfectly legitimate for this person to get a driver’s license. But why was a voter registration form even made available to her?

That checkbox is the only verification required with the federal form. No other proof of citizenship is required. And in most states, no ID is required at the polls.

Will the Supreme Court return power to the states to enforce their own qualifications? The case, Kobach v. EAC, is headed to the Supreme Court, and the Public Interest Legal Foundation has submitted an amicus brief explaining why the Court should take it.

The time to catch foreigners trying to vote is when they register to vote, not after they voted.