37-year-old Rosa Maria Ortega was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and brought to the U.S. by her mother when she was just a baby.
Now, she faces eight years in prison for voter fraud in Texas. While Ortega is a legal resident of the U.S., she is not a U.S. citizen.
Ortega was found guilty Wednesday on two counts of voter fraud after having falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen and voting at least five times between 2012 and 2014. In addition to the eight year prison sentence, she was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
— Nicole Cobler (@nicolecobler) February 9, 2017
Ortega claims she didn’t know she was breaking the law, according to Fox News.
My mom just used us to get stamps. She never gave us love or guidance. She got deported. All my life since I worked, I always on my knowledge thought I was a U.S. citizen because I never knew the difference of U.S. citizen and U.S. resident. And the point is if I knew, everything would’ve been the correct way.”
As reported by the New York Times, Ortega’s lawyer backed her claim and pointed to what he views as inconsistencies in the law.
“She has a sixth-grade education. She didn’t know she wasn’t legal. She can own property; she can serve in the military; she can get a job; she can pay taxes. But she can’t vote, and she didn’t know that.”
Estimates of how many illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election vary widely–depending on who’s doing the estimating. President Trump insisted that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote:
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Trump has been widely criticized in the media for the claim, but as reported by The Daily Caller, a study published in the Electoral Studies Journal in 2014, found that between 38,000 and 2.8 million votes were cast by “non-citizens” in the 2008 election.
STUDY: Up to 2.8 million illegal votes were cast in 2008 – President Trump is right again on voter fraud!https://t.co/CbUnsEb7QZ
— Makada ?? (@_Makada_) January 25, 2017
Ironically, as reported by Fox, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton–for whom Ortega voted twice –assisted in her prosecution.
“This case shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure, and the outcome sends a message that violators of the state’s election law will be prosecuted to the fullest.”
Ortega’s lawyer said that she will likely be deported after she completes her prison sentence.