Permanent residents, while enjoying many of the benefits of citizenship, may be targeted for deportation from the United States as a result of certain status changes or criminal convictions. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) sets forth many grounds upon which a non-citizen may be deported to their country of origin. The most common reasons that permanent residents living in South Carolina are targeted for deportation are as a result of a change in their legal status, or after the conviction of certain types of crimes.
Grounds for Deportation
Briefly summarized, there are three main categories upon which removal proceedings can be initiated. These three categories are:
- A change in legal status for the subject;
- Conviction of a crime of “moral turpitude”; or
- Conviction of an “aggravated felony.”
Changes in Legal Status
The first has to do with changes in actual legal status; for example, if somebody was inadmissible at the time of entry or reentry into the United States, or in some way violates the terms of their green card. People who are in this country on conditional permanent resident status through familial relations, but have this status terminated, are also part of this group, as are those found guilty of marriage fraud (there are special rules for those here through marriage), as well as anybody who is found to have helped smuggle aliens into the United States within five years of entering the country.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude
The second area upon which deportation proceedings are based arises after being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. It is important to first understand what a crime of moral turpitude is. It has been vaguely defined by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) as a “nebulous concept,” that generally refers to conduct that shocks the conscience of the public and is considered inherently base, vile, or depraved. It remains a subjective standard, depending on the facts of the crime the person in question was convicted of, but in general, crimes of moral turpitude include murder, voluntary (and sometimes even involuntary) manslaughter, rape, spousal or child abuse, incest, kidnapping, aggravated assault, animal fighting, theft, fraud, and conspiracy in a crime involving moral turpitude. Again, this list is not exhaustive and depends on the facts of each case.
Crimes of moral turpitude are grounds for deportation if the crime is committed within five years after the date of entry into the United States (or ten years, if the reason for the issuance of a green card was as a criminal informant), and the crime is punishable by a prison term of at least one year. Anyone convicted of two or more subsequent crimes involving moral turpitude at any time after entry into the United States which arise out of different fact patterns may also be deported, regardless of the potential prison term.
The third area in which deportation proceedings are brought against permanent residents arises after someone has been convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after entry into the United States. This particular area is complicated, as aggravated felonies need not be aggravated nor felonies under the law. “Aggravated felony” in the context of immigration is a term of art used to describe a category of offenses carrying particularly harsh immigration consequences if convicted. Many nonviolent offenses are included on this list. Today, the definition of “aggravated felony” includes more than 30 offenses, including filing a false tax return, simple battery, theft, and failing to appear in court.
If you are a permanent resident in the United States and reside in South Carolina, and you are facing potential deportation proceedings, it is important you have representation from an experienced immigration attorney. There still may be options, but do not delay. Call or email the team at the Workers Compensation Lawyers- today for a free consultation.