In Matter of Fitzpatrick, the Board of Immigrations Appeals (BIA) determined that unlawful voting by a lawful permanent resident could render the individual deportable, even if the person did not know she was committing an unlawful act by voting.  The BIA found that Fitzpatrick had violated a federal statute that did not require any specific intent - that is, it did not require the government to prove that Fitzpatrick intended to commit an unlawful act by voting, only that she actually voted and that she knew she was not a United States citizen.  Fitzpatrick tried to argue that she was exempt from the cited federal provision, but the BIA rejected her argument.

As states contemplate laws that automatically register people to vote when they apply for driver's licenses, this decision becomes all the more worrisome.  How many non-citizens, having been automatically registered to vote by the Department of Motor Vehicles and having received mail about where and when to vote, will unwittingly lose their immigration status by unlawfully voting?

The full decision in Matter of Fitzpatrick can be found here: