On an annual basis, thousands of immigrants, including some long-time residents, are placed under removal proceedings because of criminal sentences. These criminal convictions may have been minor and taken place many years ago but still be taken into account in making decisions for removal from the U.S., given that there is no statute of limitations in removal proceedings. Offenses committed by individuals are categorized as “aggravated felonies,” despite the fact that they may not be “aggravated” or even felonies. Other offenses can be classified as “crimes of moral turpitude,” such as shoplifting.
Although an individual’s conviction can be erased for certain matters, his or her record remains completely intact for immigration purposes. Therefore, conduct that may not merit conviction for criminal purposes may be enough in Immigration Court to be considered as a conviction. Simply put, in immigration proceedings, the consequences of criminal conduct can lead to deportation, regardless of whether or not the person was convicted.
In 2010, the United States Supreme Court expressed that it is the obligation of criminal attorneys to advise foreign-born defendants of the consequences in deportation proceedings for pleading guilty or nolo contendere (neither pleading guilty nor disputing a charge).
This is a very confusing immigration matter that requires the knowledge and experience of an attorney to represent you exceptionally well before the government. Attorney Michael Borja is heavily experienced in both immigration and criminal law and prepared to represent foreign-born individuals whom the government is trying to remove from the United States for minor offenses that occurred many years ago.
For more info:
- List of Crimes of Moral Turpitude (State Department)
- Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions – Office of Immigration Litigation (Revised November 2010)
- Criminal and Deportation Defense – National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
- Defending Immigrants
- Tooby’s Guide to Criminal Immigration Law (230 pages)
- Judulang v. Holder US Supreme Court (12-12-11) – Green Card Holder Eligible to Apply for 212(c) Waiver Whether Conviction is for a Removable or Inadmissible Ground
- ICE Targets Fewer Criminals in Deportation Proceedings (11-05-11)
- Duty of Criminal Defense Counsel Representing An Immigrant Defendant After Padilla v. Kentucky (IDP Practice Advisory)
- AAO Decision Regarding Use of Marijuana (6-17-09)
- Nijhawan v. Holder – U.S. Supreme Court. 129 S. Ct. 2294 (6-15-09) – Whether a Particular Theft Crime is an Aggravated Felony
- Matter of Silva-Trevino, 24 I&N Dec. 687 (A.G. 2008) – Application of “Modified Category” Approach to Crimes of Moral Turpitude
- Gonzales v. Duenas-Alvarez U.S. Supreme Court (1-17-07) – A Theft Offense Includes the Crime of Aiding and Abetting a Theft Offense
- Lopez v. Gonzales – When is a Drug Offender an Aggravated Felon? – U.S. Supreme Court (12-06-06)
- Lopez v. Gonzales Practice Advisories and Media Materials (Immigrant Defense Project)
- Leocal v. Ashcroft – DUI Causing Bodily Harm is Not a Crime of Violence – U.S. Supreme Court (11-09-04)
- DOJ/EOIR Proposed Regulation Implements St. Cyr v. INS (8-13-02)
- EOIR FAQ: §212(c) Regulations (8-13-02)
- EOIR Fact Sheet: §212(c) Regulations (8-13-02)