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Texas woman sentenced for illegal voting faces deportation after parole

A Texas woman who was sentenced in 2017 to eight years in prison for illegally voting now faces deportation to Mexico.

Rosa Maria Ortega, 40, was granted parole in December after serving nine months of her sentence. She was later taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), USA Today reported on Friday.

Ortega, who was brought to the U.S. as an infant and is now the mother of four teenagers, was living in the U.S. legally on a green card when she was charged with illegally voting.

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Federal law states that “any alien who has voted in violation of any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is deportable.”

Jean Reisz, a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, told USA Today that the chances of Ortega not being deported were slim.

“There are very limited applications for relief, and a felony criminal conviction would bar you from a lot of relief,” Reisz said. “And once you have that conviction there’s no way to get rid of it unless it’s vacated by a criminal judge, or you are pardoned by the governor or the president.”

In 2012, Ortega voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and then in 2014 voted for then-Texas attorney general candidate Ken Paxton, who went on to win and then eventually prosecuted Ortega for illegal voting.

Ortega’s case fueled claims from lawmakers and officials in Texas of widespread voter fraud, despite data that shows that cases such as Ortega’s are rare.

Paxton has tweeted about a “VOTER FRAUD ALERT” in which Texas officials claimed they had discovered voting by tens of thousands of non-U.S. citizens and promised to investigate the matter. The investigation never took place, USA Today reported.

President Trump at the time tweeted that the allegations of voter fraud were “just the tip of the iceberg.”

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