In the run-up to the November elections, more than a dozen foreign nationals face prison time and heavy fines for voting in North Carolina, according to a new federal task force.
The federal indictments may be the tip of the iceberg. Federal agents have subpoenaed more than 20 million North Carolina voter records covering eight years as part of a deepening inquiry into voter fraud in the Tar Heel State.
Last month, 17 foreign nationals were indicted for falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to register to vote and unlawful voting in the 2016 elections. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up six years in prison and slapped with six-figure fines.
Separately, criminal charges of fraud, misuse of visas and unlawful voting were filed against Diana Patricia Franco-Rodriguez, 26, of Mexico. She could get up to 26 years behind bars and a $350,000 fine.
In addition to Mexico, the indicted foreign nationals hail from El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Panama, Grenada, Guyana, Germany, Poland and Italy.
A U.S. citizen, Denslo Allen Paige, 66, was charged with aiding and abetting one of the Mexican nationals in falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to register to vote. Paige could receive up to five years in prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
The indictments stem from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as part of a newly created Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) in the Eastern District of North Carolina. DBFTFs combine federal, state and local law enforcement resources to investigate and disrupt fraud schemes.
Meanwhile, research by the Public Interest Legal Foundation found that 3,120 non-citizens were registered to vote and/or removed from the rolls in 13 sanctuary cities across the U.S. from 2006-2018.
The 3,120 total is a lowball figure as some notable sanctuary jurisdictions, such as California’s Los Angeles and Alameda counties, refused to respond to multiple requests for data.
Fairfax County, Va., led the list of removals with 1,334 non-citizens purged from the voter rolls.
In the majority of cases, detection and removal of non-citizen voters came only after individuals self-reported their ineligible status at the risk of immigration jeopardy or deportation, PILF stated.
“Few sanctuary jurisdictions use systems established to actively detect unlawful registrations already in existence. None verify claims of citizenship during voter registration,” PILF noted.
Further problems arise when jurisdictions like Takoma, Md., and Chicago permit aliens to vote in local elections. Federal law dictates that only U.S. citizens may vote in federal elections. Most states only permit citizens to vote in statewide elections. However, some states allow municipalities to set their own voting rules for local elections.