North Carolinians Arrested For Immigration & Voting Crimes As We Get Closer To November Elections
It seems that, every day, we hear news of the current administration blurring the lines between criminal prosecution and immigration policies, and this seems to be ever more apparent as we get closer and closer to the November elections here in North Carolina and throughout the country.
For example, recently, more than a dozen North Carolinians were indicted by federal officials for allegedly falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to vote in local elections. Several of the defendants were reportedly legal permanent residents who required interpreters at their hearings, whereby valid questions concerning whether or not they actually realized that their status as non citizens did not allow them to vote was called into question, as we discuss below.
If convicted of the charges – which often include fraud, misuse of visas, and unlawful voting – those prosecuted could end up serving anywhere between six and 26 years in prison and pay heavy fines – upwards of $350,000. In addition, any U.S. citizens charged with aiding and abetting anyone found falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to register to vote can receive up to five years in prison and end up paying a $250,000 fine.
Those indicted reportedly included people from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, and Poland. Not only did the investigation into the indictments reveal that some charged with illegally voting may not have realized that they were ineligible to vote, but these individuals may now face deportation without the Justice Department having to first prove that they intended to break the law in court.
Significant Efforts to Affect Voting?
Many have pointed out the irony of the timing and scope of these activities, and are troubled about the potential for federal interference with pending statewide elections. The indictments stem from a newly created Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which is linked to investigations conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations. Federal agents have also reportedly subpoenaed more than 20 million voter records throughout the state – covering eight years – as part of the investigation.
North Carolina Criminal Defense & Immigration Attorney Serving Franklin, Granville, Vance & Warren Counties
While ICE initially declared that its purpose under the new administration was to only deport individuals who had been convicted of serious crimes, over the last year or so, it is clear that these lines are every increasingly blurred, and many innocent people have found themselves wrongfully accused of crimes; arguably for the sake of orchestrating and justifying deportation proceedings.
If you or a loved one has been wrongly targeted in the criminal and/or deportation sense, contact our experienced North Carolina family-based immigration and criminal defense attorneys at Dysart Willis today for a free consultation to find out how we can help.