Many people would most likely be surprised to recognize that among the most serious offenses a non-citizen have the right to commit in terms of aftermath to their lawful immigration condition is to vote in an choice in which they room not authorized. If a Legal permanent Resident (or “green card” holder), does vote in any election in which citizenship is required, they deserve to be inserted into removed proceedings and also eventually notified deported. There space very couple of options for relief for people in this situation, even if castle have years of legal visibility in the U.S., no criminal record, and extensive household ties. Last week, the plank of immigrant Appeals (BIA) coagulation the seriousness and also rigidity the unauthorized vote by issuing a criterion decision holding that a human being is deportable regardless of even if it is or no they knew that they to be not permitted to participate in the election.

You are watching: Can non us citizens vote?

In Matter the Fitzpatrick, 26 I&N Dec. 559 (BIA 2015), the BIA hosted that a respondent, that was a Legal permanent Resident, to be deportable under INA ar 237(a)(6) together an alien that voted in violation that law. The court organized INA 237(a)(6) was an violation of “general,” no “specific” intent. In other words, the action of unauthorized voting does not require to have actually been intentional. This way that also if an individual’s actions to be truly unintentional, which can perhaps be the instance when over there is a language obstacle or also a justifiable misunderstanding (such as if a human was do the efforts to poll in a institution board choice in which they were legally authorized come vote but ended up voting in a federal election the was ~ above the very same ballot), the legislation kicks in and can render the violator deportable.

The only exception to this dominion is in cases in which the respondent can prove that 1) the choice was hosted in component for some other purpose i beg your pardon 2) the respondent would have actually been authorized to take part in; and 3) “voting because that the other purpose was conducted independently of voting for a candidate for commonwealth offices, in such a manner the an alien has the chance to vote for such various other purpose, however not an possibility to poll for a candidate for any one or much more of such commonwealth offices.” This narrow exception is rigidly interpreted, and couple of elections would satisfy its criteria of permitting non-U.S. Citizens to poll for one items on a ballot however not another.

While this decision doesn’t necessarily break new ground, in the we already knew that voting without authorization carried extraordinarily harsh after-effects for non-citizens, it reinforces the require to communicate the rule to clients as soon as they become green map holders. Because the benefit an individual it s okay from poll in an election as soon as they’re no authorized is great outweighed by the risk they space incurring by act so, my guess is the the vast majority of human being who do it either 1) don’t realize what they’re act is unlawful, or 2) think that due to the fact that they space authorized to vote in some sort of regional election the they’re additionally authorized to vote on every the matters had on a general election ballot.

See more: Brined Baked Potatoes America’S Test Kitchen Baked Potatoes Recipes

Given the absolutely devastating aftermath unauthorized voting deserve to have, i hope that immigrant attorneys, neighborhood entities responsible for administrating elections, and community organizations of every kinds will assist to acquire the indigenous out: when in doubt, don’t VOTE until you’re a Citizen.