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It’s 2012 Election Year!Unlawful Voting & Its Immigration consequence

by Immigration Attorney Osas Iyamu on July 30, 2012
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Unlawful Voting & Its Immigration Consequence resized 600The U.S law makes it an immigration and criminal violation for non-U.S citizens to vote in Federal, State or local election, which requires United States citizenship in order to be eligible to vote in such elections. A non-citizen, who does vote, is in violation of Federal, State, or local law and is inadmissible and deportable from the U.S.

Exception For Lawful Permanent Residents. (Green Card holders)

There is an exemption from deportation and criminal prosecution. This is reserved for certain non-U.S citizens who vote or register to vote in the United States on the mistaken belief that they are U.S. citizens.
This exception applies to lawful permanent residents who:
1. Have resided in the United States before the age of 16.
2. Have parents who are U.S. citizens.
3. Reasonably believed, at the time of such voting violation, that he or she was a citizen.

In order to determine whether there has been a violation of a Federal, State or local election law, which ultimately has immigration consequences, the laws in question must be reviewed to determine if, in fact, a violation has occurred.

A non-U.S citizen can only be found to have voted unlawfully if his or her conduct was deemed unlawful under the relevant Federal, State, or local election laws. The act of voting, alone, is not sufficient to establish that a non-U.S Citizen has voted unlawfully.

The election laws governing voting and voter eligibility vary by location and state. Where the election law penalizes the actual act of voting, the fact that a non-U.S citizen has actually voted is sufficient to establish that he or she has voted unlawfully.
Where the election law penalizes the act of voting upon an additional showing that the individual acted “knowingly” or “willfully,” It cannot be concluded that the non-U.S citizen voted unlawfully until the circumstances surrounding the voting are investigated and assessed to show such voting was carried out knowingly or willfully in violation of  Law.

Where there is no violation of election laws, there can be no immigration consequence of unlawful voting.

Criminal Penalties for Unlawful Voting.

Unlawful voting is not only an immigration violation that makes the non-U.S citizen inadmissible and deportable, but also a criminal violation, which can subject him or her to criminal prosecution under the Federal and/or State laws.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), no criminal conviction for unlawful voting is required to support a charge for deportation under the U.S immigration law. A non-U.S citizen who votes unlawfully but who has not been convicted under Federal or State Law is still potentially deportable. Deportation charges can be sustained simply by proving that the non-U.S citizen voted in violation of the relevant election law.

Unlawful Voting, whether under Federal or State laws, is ground for inadmissibility & deportation. Non-U.S citizen should realize that getting involved in the electoral process, by voting, harms their chances for immigration benefits in the United States.

Unlawful Voting & Immigration Reform.

Non-U.S citizens in the U.S unlawfully, are hoping for some immigration reform that will create a pathway for some sort of immigration status. In the event, this comes to fruition, non-citizens who have voted in violation of electoral laws may be disqualified, unless the current immigration law on the effect of unlawful voting is changed,modified or waived.

Topics: Ocala FL Immigration Blog, Immigration, Unlawful Voting & Its Immigration Consequence, deportation, election law