A green card holder who lived a “productive and otherwise-unblemished” life in the U.S. must return to her native Peru after voting in federal elections, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said Feb. 13 ( Fitzpatrick v. Sessions , 2017 BL 42336, 7th Cir., No. 15-2204, 2/13/17 ).
The decision comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s claims that millions of immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. That claim is unsubstantiated, but administration officials are likely to point to this and other similar incidents as proof of what they’ve called “rampant” voter fraud.
Critics of the administration say these instances are isolated, but are being used as a pretext to disenfranchise minority voters through voting restrictions, like voter identification laws.
Here, even though non-citizen Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick showed her Peruvian passport to a DMV employee, the court found that the employee’s refusal to give advice as to whether she should register to vote—saying only, “It’s up to you"—wasn’t an “official authorization” that excused her behavior.
Although Fitzpatrick “is married to a U.S. citizen, and has three U.S.-citizen children,” the decision to deport her “is entrusted to executive officials,” leaving the court with no opinion but to affirm that decision, Judge Frank H. Easterbrook wrote for the court.
Judges Ann Claire Williams and Diane S. Sykes joined the opinon.
Richard Hanus of Chicago represented the immigrant. The Justice Department represented the federal government.
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