Criminal Allegations in Alicia Machado’s Past Likely Wouldn’t Preclude Citizenship, Expert SaysWell, that’s reassuring!
By Ben Mathis-Lilley
One of the vague insinuations in Donald Trump’s instantly legendary early-morning Friday tweetstorm was that Hillary Clinton was involved in some sort of untoward way in securing United States citizenship for Alicia Machado despite Machado’s “disgusting” past …
As always, it's impossible to understand exactly what Trump means. But let's assume he was making an argument similar to the one Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham made on Wednesday: that Machado should have been prohibited from becoming an American citizen because she was reported to have been an accomplice in a 1998 attempted murder case in Venezuela, was accused by the judge in that case of making threats against him, and was later reported to have dated a Mexican drug trafficker. As you can read in the Daily Beast, she was never tried in the attempted murder case or in relation to the alleged threats against the judge.* As to the drug trafficker, press reports in 2010 said that a witness in a Mexican criminal case told authorities that Machado had borne a child by a cartel figure named Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez, but she does not appear to have been implicated in any specific criminal behavior related to Vazquez and has denied that he is the father of the child in question.
Machado was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on Aug. 19. I spoke to New York University Law Schol professor Nancy Morawetz, [Email her]an expert in immigration law, to see if any of the publicly known information about Machado could or should have precluded her naturalization. While Morawetz of course does not have access to Machado’s immigration application materials, the answer appears to be “no”:
The standard under the law when you are seeking citizenship is showing good moral character, and good moral character is evaluated over a five-year period before you apply for citizenship. And they can look at earlier things but what the statute says matters is your good moral character in the last five years. So the fact that there’s something in your past doesn’t preclude you from becoming a citizen. The only situation which they under the statute look beyond five years is when you have a conviction for something that is categorized as an aggravated felony, which is a very broad category, but it’s only about convictions. If somebody’s been arrested and the charges have been dropped, that would not be—I can’t say that it might never be of any interest, but it’s not what the statute is looking at.
For what it's worth, being the spouse of a drug trafficker and having knowingly benefited from drug crimes in the past five years does appear to preclude one from becoming an American citizen; Machado's relationship with Vazquez was alleged to have taken place before 2010. (It also appears to be based on the hearsay testimony of a witness—or "witnesses," but only one is ever named—who did not allege she was ever married to Vazquez.)And, besides, that witness was soon murdered so he’s not around to squeal about Alicia Machado anymore.
But she appears to have filled in a Miami-Dade County official form two years ago in 2014 listing her child with the last name not of the man she had claimed was the father, but with the last name “Alvarez” of the the imprisoned cartel hitman.
Does anybody find all this less than confidence-inducing about our current immigration system?
Because any kind of vetting of immigrants would violate the Zeroth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which is that everybody in the world has the civil right to move to America and vote Democratic, no questions asked.
Prudence about immigration would be racist.