Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick is now facing deportation after voting illegally and casting ballots for federal candidates. Fitzpatrick is a Peruvian woman, married to an American citizen, and she sought to become a naturalized citizen in the state of Illinois.
According to court records, Fitzpatrick registered to vote at a driver's licensing office in 2005. She presented a valid passport and a green card from her homeland as a means of meeting the requirements to secure a license. Due to guidelines under the National Voter Registration Act, the DMV worker offered Fitzpatrick the option to vote, despite her status as an illegal immigrant. Fitzpatrick who studied English in college and worked as a translator in the medical field asked the state employee if she was “supposed to” vote. The employee responded, telling the woman that it was “up to her.” The woman later signed a document stating that she was a natural United States citizen. This attestment allowed Fitzpatrick to become a fully registered voter and cast ballots for federal candidates in 2006.
Federal American law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal or state elections. Failure to comply with this law can result in deportation. Ironically, Fitzpatrick’s transgressions might have gone unnoticed had she not attempted to pursue citizenship. In doing so, she had to self-report her registration experience.
Fitzpatrick attempted to save herself by appealing her deportation order to the U.S. 7th Circuit in Chicago, alleging that she was essentially entrapped by the DMV worker who failed to counsel her against registering to vote. The appellate court, however, did not see things her way, noting her full literacy in English and stating that the conversation was most likely scripted from the perspective of the state officer’s perspective. DMV employees are also barred from engaging in any activity that would discourage applicants from registering to vote.
Election Law Expert, J. Christian Adams noted the difficulty of pursuing noncitizen voting crimes when lacking verification methods in voter registration.
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