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Federal Court Distinguishes Immigration Cases Where Aliens Voted in Elections

August 23, 2012 (1 min read)

"Two immigrant aliens who married U.S. citizens and had pending petitions to become lawful permanent residents voted in federal elections.  That’s a problem.  One just lost his federal appeals fight to remain in the country.  The other still has a shot to stay.  An immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) found that Anthony Kimani, a Kenyan citizen, and Elizabeth Keathley, a citizen of the Philippines, violated 18 U.S.C. § 611 when they voted in U.S. federal elections before attaining permanent resident status.  Section 611(a) declares it unlawful for any alien to vote for a U.S. President, Vice President, or member of Congress, among other public offices.  An individual who violates this provision is not eligible for permanent resident status as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.  Based on the violations, the immigration judge in both cases ordered deportation.  Both parties appealed.  In Kimani v. Holder, Nos. 11-1497 & 11-2955 (August 22, 2012), a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the board’s removal order, and denied a motion to reopen the decision on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.  But in Keathley v. Holder, No. 11-1594 (August 22, 2012), another three-judge panel distinguished Kimani and approved Keathley’s petition for judicial review. Keathley is now free to assert the defense of so-called “entrapment by estoppel” to avoid deportation." - Joe Forward, Aug. 23, 2012.