Some immigration attorneys say a well-intentioned federal statute may be luring non-citizens to unknowingly break the law.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 known as the “motor voter” law, was created to allow for easy voter registration in an effort to be inclusive, but according to Chicago immigration attorney Richard Hanus, the law solicits ineligible people to also participate.
“A person could be wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘I am not a U.S. citizen on it,’ and they will still be asked, ‘would you like to register to vote?’” said Hanus.
The result, according to Hanus, is non-citizens unfamiliar with U.S. laws and processes are unlawfully registering to vote, and in some cases, illegally voting in elections.
“If you make a false claim to U.S. citizenship or you vote, the penalty is as if you are a convicted drug dealer or murderer,” Hanus said.
Margarita Fitzpatrick, a registered nurse and mother of three adult children, is facing immediate deportation after she says she was misled to register to vote, then mistakenly voted in two U.S. elections.