USCIS and Alien Voting: Falling Down on the Job

The Washington Examiner recently reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is waffling on whether it will provide data to President Trump’s commission on voter fraud. Ostensibly, the agency is concerned about potential violations of privacy law. That is complete poppycock.

With very limited exceptions, U.S. citizenship is required to vote in an American election. It is a crime for non-citizens to vote in a federal election. And aliens who do so may be charged with a crime pursuant to 18 U.S. Code Section 1611.  Similarly, an alien who makes a false claim to U.S. citizenship in order to vote may be prosecuted pursuant to 18 U.S. Code Section 1015(f).

Pursuant to the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), any alien who has voted in violation of any federal, state or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is both inadmissible and deportable.

In fact, the application for naturalization specifically asks if an applicant has ever registered to vote, or voted, in any federal, state, or local election in the United States. USCIS asks this question because (as clearly noted in the USCIS policy manual) an applicant who has violated U.S. voting laws may be ineligible for U.S. citizenship due to a lack of good moral character.

USCIS clearly has statutory authority to gather information on voting fraud by aliens and to investigate apparent instances of such deception. So why is the agency equivocating about furnishing data to the presidential commission on voter fraud? It doesn’t bother to gather and track this information. In short, USCIS simply chose to ignore the responsibilities Congress assigned to it with regard to suppressing illegal voting by aliens.

While this may seem shocking to the casual observer, it’s hardly surprising to those who monitor the agency’s performance. USCIS has demonstrated a pro-alien, “get-to-yes” culture since its formation in 2003. According to a 2012 report compiled by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, senior officials at USCIS regularly pressured employees to rubber-stamp applications for immigration benefits, despite concerns about fraud or ineligibility. And in 2013, PJ Media described the USCIS Office of the Chief Counsel as “amnesty incorporated,” because it had hired so many attorneys associated with pro-amnesty activist groups like the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrant’s Rights Project and the National Immigrant Law Center.

USCIS’s intransigence illustrates how important the presidential commission on voter fraud is. American citizens should be confident that the votes they cast will exert genuine influence on the choice of candidates for political office and on issues submitted to referendum. But non-citizen voting is an ongoing problem in the United States. And each vote cast by a non-citizen diminishes the influence that the American polity wields in its own nation. That is an unacceptable situation.

The first thing President Trump should do in tackling this problem is to send USCIS a clear message that it is a federal law enforcement agency, not the alien welcome wagon – and its consistent falling down on the job will no longer be tolerated. The best way he can do that is to start filling key positions at USCIS with people who share his views and the views of the U.S. citizens who elected him.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar


    Let all agencies of every level of government
    work together to get a complete and accurate list
    of all citizens of the USA.
    This would include listing individuals in the USA
    who are NOT American citizens.
    Data privacy should be protected in any such list.
    And when the facts will only be available
    to persons with valid reasons to know,
    then such a list would be more beneficial than harmful.

    When asked for voting data,
    most Secretaries of State have refused
    because there is no security for the data.
    USCIS has the same valid objection.

    Here is a proposal for a VERY SECURE complete list
    of all citizens and non-citizens living in the USA:—freelibrary-3puxk/CY-NID.html

    • avatar

      Good luck about data protection if and once that list is manipulated by the wrong people…you should move to Russia….you belong there,…..

  2. avatar

    I really do doubt that an Alien or illegal will risk or care to vote. I am sure there are some….but compare to our own is totally negligible…FAKE NEWS…..