Martin Luther King & Voting Rights
”El Show Sin Fronteras”
Spanish Video Above Translated In English Below
Why Is Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrated?
January 17th marks two important dates for people living in the United States, Civil Rights Day and the birthday of a very dear person very dear for the country, Martin Luther King Jr.
He was a person who was a civil rights activist, and he represents the image of that great movement that originated decades ago.
But one thing that stands out about Martin Luther King Jr. is nonviolent protest, and he was pushing for these civil rights.
He was an activist who fought for equality, segregation, voting rights for the Black community, and he was an incredibly impactful person, he was represented by the values, the integrity that defined him, and fought for what we all stand and fight for at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law every day for the immigrant community.
Can Undocumented People Vote?
An undocumented person cannot vote in any election in the United States.
To vote in a local state or federal election, you must be a U.S. citizen.
There is a lot of confusion in the undocumented community about whether or not they have the right to vote, most people know that it is not possible, but we have seen people who have permanent residency, who have their Green Cards, and they did not know that it is not possible to vote with a Green Card, since it is not allowed.
Something that can prove to be very problematic for a Green Card holder who is trying to vote or has already voted in any election, can hurt their chances of being able to realize their U.S. citizenship in the future.
Is this rule something that would also apply to Dreamers, TPS, or Parole Advanced?
Unfortunately, no one except U.S. citizens in the United States can have the right to vote.
If a person has dual citizenship, for example, if they are a citizen of Mexico and also a citizen of the United States, that person can vote, but no one can vote in U.S. elections if they do not have U.S. citizenship.
If you have a passport or have a certificate of U.S. citizenship, it is received by a person who has passed the naturalization test and presented at his or her oath-taking hearings, or for persons who received U.S. citizenship from their parents who already have that certificate of citizenship.
You must have a U.S. birth certificate or a certificate or document that can prove that you are a U.S. citizen, otherwise, you cannot register to vote or vote in any U.S. election.
Can Someone With Dual Citizenship Vote?
There is no problem in the eyes of the Government if someone wants to have dual or triple citizenship, the United States does not focus on the other citizenship a person has, as it is sometimes in other countries, for example in Germany, the German Government has its laws for a person to apply to obtain their German citizenship.
Other countries may have their laws, although in the case of the United States when someone was born in the United States or became a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process, that person first has to take an oath to the United States, that they can vote and can live here. Still, it is not a requirement to maintain a residence all their life, you do not have to maintain a principal place in the United States, you have the right to be an American citizen even if you are living in other countries or have citizenship of other countries as a result.
What Happens If I Register To Vote But I Am Undocumented?
There are several punishments given by the immigration law, this is a highly dangerous and important punishment because it is permanent and there are zero chances to obtain a consular pardon for this charge.
It is very important to understand this law and not to say that a person is a U.S. citizen when they are not.
One way to say according to the United States, that you are an American citizen is to register to vote or vote in an election directly, in addition, that is something that is written down, and when a person is visiting the DPS office to get a license or is filling out a letter with their information to register to vote.
That is something that you are going to register with the U.S. Government, so it is considered proof that you said you were a U.S. citizen when in fact you were not.
It is essential not to try to vote or register to vote if you do not have citizenship.
Some people vote or register without knowing, there are cases of children who grew up in the United States and have not realized that they are not U.S. citizens until they are 16 or 18 years old, and in those cases, there are exceptions for people who did it without knowing but were very young.
In general, people who are not U.S. citizens, who are undocumented, who are permanent residents, who have VAWA, who have work permits, and register to vote in the U.S., will never be able to settle permanently, and for permanent residents, they may never be able to become U.S. citizens after registering to vote knowing they are not citizens.
We know many people who did not know that law and did it by mistake.
For us, it is unfortunate when we have a consultation with a person who wants to become an American citizen to be able to ask for his parents and be reunited with them, and we have to say no, you cannot because of that registration you made to vote, or that vote you made two years ago for example.
We had a person who came to our office to start a citizenship process, he was a permanent resident, that person had made his ballot for Obama, and we had to explain to that person that he did not qualify to make that ballot, and what happens is that that person did not know that he could not vote.
When we have an election coming up, there are many people on the street trying to register people to vote, and that is why it is possible to vote with misinformation, if someone goes to the supermarket, for example, someone can offer them a letter to register to vote, and they are not going to ask them what their immigration status is, and that is the responsibility of each person, to know and be aware of what the rules are, and that you cannot register to vote or vote without U.S. citizenship.
Why Is It Important To Vote?
All elections are very important, local elections as well, and now we have an election for district 4 in the city of Austin, and Gregorio Casar is a candidate for Congress.
Your seat in Austin City Council District 4 is open, and for people who are in Austin and can vote, you should know that this is a very important election, it is local, but also in the state elections are very important because the elected representatives that go to the Texas State Congress can pass laws like SB 4 or laws affecting students in college in Texas, now they have to pay Out Of State Tuition, and in Congress, the presidential election can affect the immigrant community very much.
They are executive policies that can affect them, for example on priorities of effort, on who is going to be arrested, detained, or deported, and Congress can make legislation for Dreamers, permanent residents, for the undocumented community.
That is why it is so important to vote in every election when you have the opportunity to do so, it is one of the most important aspects of participating in U.S. Government elections, making a difference with your right to vote.
Once I Have My Citizenship, How Soon Can I Vote?
There is only one step between citizenship and the right to vote because the moment you become a U.S. citizen, the next step is that you have to register to vote and after you do that registration you can go and do your voting.
There is a time limit before the election, a specific date, but it is going to be necessary for people who want to vote in the federal elections this year, you have to register a month, maybe two months before the election.
For people who are in the United States, are undocumented and cannot currently vote because of their immigration status, you can take action to inform those people that they can vote, because we all know in our lives an American citizen who can vote and is not voting, so you can inform them and send them this information and also motivate them to vote, because at the end of the day they are the ones who are doing the decision making for us or part of us, so we must make sure that those who are voting are doing it in favor of the immigrant community.
There are going to be plenty of opportunities to take action, to help, and to change the laws of the United States for the better.
For more information about how to register to vote, visit VoteTexas.gov
In case you have additional questions about how to register to vote, the necessary documentation for your citizenship, or about your specific case, you can contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a short 10 minute evaluation of your case over the phone we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so as not to miss our weekly transmissions via Facebook, YouTube & Twitch.
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