05 Feb Deportation of Immigrants with a criminal conviction
The Sessions vs. James Dimaya case concerning of deportation brings the crucial question back into account as to whether immigrants should be deported if they commit a serious crime or not. Dimaya, a native of the Philippines legally immigrated to the United States in 1992. He was sentenced on two separate counts of domestic burglary in 2007 and 2009. Due to these sentences, the United States government attempted to deport Dimaya in 2010, asserting that these convictions were “aggravated felonies” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Most of the opinion, in this case, had held that a part of the INA used to deport immigrant criminals was unconstitutionally “vague.”
‘Crime of Violence,’ is a provision of the INA for the purpose of removal proceedings. In the context of Federal Law, if an immigrant is convicted of an “aggravated felony,” he/ she is subject to deportation even if he/she is living in the States legally. Aggravated felony implies of any crime regarded in the US and several other judicial systems as more serious than a misdemeanor or minor wrongdoing. As per an immigration court in the US, Dimaya was deported because he was found guilty of first- degree burglary which met the “crime of violence” definition.
Four types of immigration status exist in the US :
US Citizens – These are people who were either born in the U.S. or who have become “naturalized” after three or five years as permanent citizens.
Permanent or Conditional Residents – Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) are those who have a “green card.” Conditional residents are those who have been married less than two years before they obtained their green card.
Non- immigrants – These are people who live in the country legally but on a temporary basis. These can be students, business visitors or tourists, fiancées and those individuals who are granted temporary protected status.
Undocumented – These are people who live or are in the country without permission or illegally. Any person who is undocumented is under the risk of being deported against them at any time. This results in a highly stressful and unstable living situation.
A crime of moral turpitude (CMT) can also put a person into removal proceedings. Anyhow, two ways committing a crime of moral turpitude could put a person into removal proceedings-
- A person commits a crime of moral turpitude during the first five years after their admission to the US.
- A person commits two or more crimes of moral turpitude that did not arise out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct at any time after their admission to the US.
To know whether you committed your crime within 5 years after your admission to the US, you must start with the date when the crime was committed and count back five years. If you were legally admitted to the US from a border, airport, or any other point of entry during those 5 years, you might be placed into removal proceedings. If more than five years have passed, then you are not deportable.
Other crimes that can make an immigrant deportable are drug crimes, illegal firearms possession or sales, espionage, domestic violence, stalking, child abuse or neglect, human trafficking, terrorist activity, and more. Last year, 2,26,000 immigrants were deported from the United States. But thousands of other immigrants weren’t expelled, even though they committed crimes as serious as sexual abuse. Thus, what is and what isn’t a deportable crime can be difficult to determine, as US immigration law is rife with conditions and often needs to be interpreted by a judge.
Undocumented immigrants are often prioritized for deportation even for a very minor offense, such as traffic violations. Even legal immigrants with green cards can be deported for some very minor crimes, including possessions of small amounts of almost any illegal drug. A standard justification given for deporting immigrants convicted of crimes is to prevent them from committing future crimes in the country. But how far is it justified to differentiate between criminal A and criminal B on the grounds of the same crime but having the difference of citizenship?