How Being Convicted of a Crime Could Impact Your Immigration and Legal Status
President Trump issued new executive orders on January 25th, 2017 that impacted immigration and enforcement policy. The orders direct the Department of Homeland Security and I.C.E. (Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement) to increase enforcement of current immigration laws for those with legal or nonlegal status who are labeled as “removable” under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Executive Orders Expand Those Targeted For Deportation Including Immigrants with Legal Status
The Executive Orders do not expand the list of categories for which undocumented and those with legal status (e.g. green card holders, refugees, and visa holders) may be deported but they do expand the list of immigrants that will be a priority for deportation. A high priority has been placed to deport immigrants that have been convicted or simply accused of committing a criminal offense.
The Executive Orders increase the functions of local law enforcement to identify and hold immigrants subject to removal and perform some of the duties of immigration officers.
Priorities For Removal
Immigration Authorities will prioritize deporting the following categories of “removable” immigrants:
- Those with criminal convictions;
- Those with pending criminal charges, even if charges have not been resolved;
- Those who have committed acts that could be a chargeable offense;
- Those who immigration officers have determined will pose a threat to public safety;
- Those who have violated a final order of removal; and
- Those who have engaged in fraud and misrepresentation in applications to the government or abused public benefits.
Some immigrants who were not I.C.E. enforcement priorities before may now become targets for deportation. The bottom line is that the new Executive Orders will expand who immigration officers will target for deportation and removal.
Criminal Convictions That Are Subject For “Removal”
Those with legal status have always been subject to deportation for committing certain crimes. Those crimes included;
- All Felonies
- Drug Convictions and Controlled Substances Convictions
- Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
- Firearms or Destructive Devices Convictions
- Domestic Violence Convictions
Felony offenses generally involve any criminal conviction requiring imprisonment for over a year. The offenses also include murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, crimes of violence, theft or burglary, obstruction of justice, bail jumping, and fraud amongst other offenses.
Controlled substances convictions include convictions for any crimes involving drugs and narcotics. A controlled substances conviction subject for removal does not include simple 1st time possession of marijuana with an amount less than 30g.
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) includes a category of a broad range of crimes.
CIMT may be grounds of deportation if committed within 5 years of admission into the United States and for which a sentence of 1 year or longer may be imposed. Two CIMT committed at anytime may be grounds for deportation even for someone with legal status.
- Crimes with intent to steal or defraud;
- Crimes in which bodily harm is caused or threatened by an intentional or reckless act;
- Most sex offenses;
- Prostitution or Commercial Vice;
- Convictions of 2 or more offenses of any type under certain circumstances.
Seek Legal Counsel For Criminal Immigration Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court in Padilla v. Kentucky found that deportation is a “particularly severe penalty” that is “intimately related” to the criminal process. 559 U.S. 356 (2010) It is incumbent that a criminal attorney be familiar with the immigration consequences of any criminal conviction when defending and advising a client in a criminal case.
Individuals or family members of individuals who are subject to removal after being charged with an offense should seek legal counsel immediately to understand how the criminal proceedings may immediately impact their immigration status.