Many states, including Illinois, allow eligible citizens to automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, renew their license or get a REAL ID. The voter registration questions are integrated into the driver’s license applications. While Illinois voted Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) into law in June 2018, it has not yet been put into effect. Although individuals can choose to opt-out of automatic voter registration, not understanding the impact of AVR or understanding how to opt-out puts non-citizens at risk, there are insufficient protections for individuals who are not looking to register and can negatively impact someone’s immigration application.
The Illinois Secretary of State does not share information about a person’s legal status with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Illinois residents who are not citizens, do not have a visa can apply for a Temporary Visitors Driver’s License and are not required to have a Social Security Number. Noncitizens are not eligible to vote in federal elections and are not eligible to vote in most state and local elections.
Non-citizens including green card holders who get a driver’s license and unintentionally register to vote via AVR may not understand that voting in U.S. elections – even though the state registered them as a voter and issued them a voter’s card – may cause their immigration application to be delayed or even denied. NPR reports that noncitizens can face serious legal actions, and that it “undermines public trust and opens the way for allegations — even unfounded ones — of voter fraud.”
United States immigration laws are complex and are updated frequently. If you have a question about immigration, contact Mario Godoy and the immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Chicago, Illinois at 855-554-6369.