A Green Card allows you to live, work, and travel anywhere in the United States. The opportunities a Green Card provides are incalculable. However, Green Card holders do not have the legal right to vote in American political elections.
As an EB-5 Green Card holder, what would happen if you were to vote in an election, in violation of the terms of your Green Card? In today’s politically charged climate, in which immigration reform is a hot-button issue and a priority of the Trump administration (including stamping out alleged illegal voting trends), the consequences could be catastrophic: deportation, even jail. You could be imprisoned, lose your Green Card, be forced to leave the country, and be barred from applying for visas in the future.
In recent months, a federal appeals court ruled that registering to vote as a Green Card holder is a violation of federal law and is legitimate grounds for deportation. The rule was in response to the case of a Green Card holder from Peru named Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick, living in Illinois, who voted into two national elections, seemingly unaware that she was breaking the law. She registered to vote when legally obtaining her driver’s license, during which she was given the option of checking a box, indicating her desire to be registered to vote. She checked the box, unaware that it was not her legal right to do so.
Another non-citizen living in Texas, Rosa Maria Ortega, was sentenced to eight years in prison for voter fraud, resulting from very similar circumstances. At the time of this writing, she has been released on bail, but she is still facing deportation if her legal appeals fail.
Although there is little evidence to support the Trump administration’s rhetoric about rampant illegal voting, it does occur. Often, this is because Green Card holders are unaware that it is against the law, illustrated by the cases of Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick and Rosa Maria Ortega.
As a Green Card holder, it is vital that you know your rights, and that you avoid any action that could jeopardize your immigration status. As always, if you have any questions and concerns, I urge you to contact your immigration attorney.