02 Feb The Dangers Of NYC’s Voting Law For Noncitizens
New York City (NYC) has legislation that would allow more than 800,000 noncitizens, such as green card holders or lawful permanent residents (LPR), as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, to vote in local elections. (Other municipalities around the U.S. have similar laws.)
While many people praise this legislation, it could also be a potential trap for the unwary, resulting in LPR’s and DACA recipients being stripped of their green cards or DACA status, and removed/deported for life! Therefore, be very careful about registering and/or voting.
First, this law would allow LPR’s, DACA holders, and others authorized to work in the U.S., to vote in LOCAL elections for mayor, city council members, borough presidents, comptrollers, and other public advocates. However, what is critical, is that noncitizens would still NOT BE ELIGIBLE to vote for president or members of Congress in FEDERAL elections, or in the state elections for governor, judges, and state legislators. If a non-citizen votes in a federal election, they are violating U.S. immigration law and could face possible deportation/removal or be banned for life from ever coming to the U.S.
In fact, if a person is applying for a green card, many immigration forms ask whether the person ever registered to vote or voted in a U.S. election. The same type of questions appear on the naturalization application. Even though NYC may permit noncitizens to vote in LOCAL elections, that does not permit them to vote in FEDERAL elections. If they do, it will spell big trouble for them.
To be clear, I have no opinion or stand in connection with noncitizens voting in local elections. My concern is that after voting in a local election, they may inadvertently later vote in a federal election, thereby messing up their future in America. I have had many people consult with me who had inadvertently registered to vote or voted in federal elections. Some may have been coming out of a supermarket and a person holding a clipboard had them registered to vote, telling them it was “okay”. But USCIS has access to voter registration records, and if it’s discovered that a noncitizen ever registered to vote or voted in a federal election, their case could be denied, whether they are applying for a green card, U.S. citizenship, or other immigration benefit.
If you are a noncitizen and have any questions or issues about violating U.S. immigration law by registering to vote or having voted in a federal election, you should consult with an attorney who can analyze your situation. If any noncitizen in NYC is going to take advantage of this law allowing them to vote in local elections, just be careful, and make sure you do not vote in federal elections until you become a U.S. citizen.
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