A Peruvian woman originally hoping to become a naturalized citizen in Illinois now faces deportation after her record of illegal voter registration and casting ballots for federal candidates has come to light.
Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick, a Peruvian woman married to an American citizen in Illinois, became registered to vote at a driver’s license issuing office in 2005, according to court records. She presented a valid green card and passport from her home country to satisfy the identification requirements to obtain a license. Because of guidelines under the National Voter Registration Act (a.k.a. Motor Voter), the DMV employee reflexively offered Fitzpatrick the opportunity to register to vote, despite her documented alien status.
Having studied English in college and working as a translator in the medical field, Fitzpatrick reportedly questioned the state employee if she was “supposed to” register. The DMV agent responded, “it’s up to you.” The woman would later sign a document attesting to U.S. citizenship, allowing her to become a fully registered voter, reportedly casting ballots for federal candidates in 2006.
Federal law currently bars noncitizens from voting in federal or state elections, potentially leading to deportation.
Fitzpatrick’s voting record would likely have remained unnoticed had she not pursued citizenship and self-reported her registration experience.
In the waning days of the Obama Administration, Fitzpatrick appealed her deportation order to the U.S. 7th Circuit in Chicago, arguing that the DMV employee essentially entrapped her for not counseling against registering to vote. The appellate court placed little stock in her defense, noting that she was fully literate in English and the conversation was likely scripted from the state officer’s perspective.
DMV employees and other state agents that are required to offer voter registration opportunities are barred from saying “anything that will discourage an applicant … from registering to vote,” the court noted.
In general, state agencies providing voter registration opportunities are not in the business of verifying the contents of applications. Documents are checked for completion and are then forwarded to appropriate election officials. In Fitzpatrick’s case, the Illinois DMV employee’s duty was complete when they had an attestation of voting eligibility in hand.
Election law expert J. Christian Adams said in a statement shortly after the 7th Circuit ruling that the case “demonstrates how difficult it is to pursue noncitizen voting crimes without verification measures in voter registration.”
As Breitbart Texas has reported recently, states like Texas and Virginia are currently considering legislation that would require documented proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote, similar to current law in Kansas.
The 7th Circuit panel inquired if individuals like Ms. Fitzpatrick were priorities for removal by the Department of Homeland Security. Government attorneys told the court on January 17 that “the answer was yes.”
Logan Churchwell is a founding editor of the Breitbart Texas team. You can follow him on Twitter @LCChurchwell. He also serves as the communications director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation.