Many people find themselves in Immigration Removal proceedings (also called deportation). While some people are being deported for simply being in the US without a visa or similar legal status, other people are being deported for criminal convictions. In fact, a lot of people being deported for criminal convictions have some sort of legal status and may even have a green card or Lawful Permanent Resident status.
If you’re being deported for your criminal convictions, you may not feel like you have many options to defend against deportation. However, when deporting someone for criminal convictions, the Government can’t simply see that someone has criminal convictions and deport them. Instead, the person being deported may be able to argue that even serious-seeming criminal convictions don’t make them deportable.
First of all, only certain categories of crimes warrant deportation. Most of these are either Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs) or Aggravated Felonies. Figuring out what convictions constitute a CIMT or an Aggravated Felony, however, is no easy task. There is no list stating exactly what crimes are CIMTs or Aggravated Felonies. Instead, someone trying to claim that their criminal conviction doesn’t fall into these categories needs to perform a complicated legal analysis. For instance, some theft crimes often don’t qualify as CIMTs or Aggravated felonies.
Further, many state convictions that would otherwise make someone deportable, may not “count” in immigration law. Most people are convicted by a crime under a state criminal statute (such as the Commonwealth of Virginia or State of New York). However, a person can only be deported for that conviction if that conviction matches a similar federal criminal law. For instance, at one point, people convicted for “Possession of Heroin” in Colorado couldn’t be deported, because Colorado’s law was too different from the Federal “Possession of Heroin” law.
People with a large number of convictions can also defend against deportation. If someone can successfully argue that many convictions don’t make them deportable, for instance, they may be able to avoid deportation entirely and keep their legal status.
Even if a person’s arguments that their convictions don’t make them deportable aren’t successful, there may be other ways to obtain relief from removal. However, many forms of relief are completely up to the judge hearing the case and judges expect to see very specific packages of evidence and information to grant this discretionary relief.
If you or someone you know have been served with a Notice to Appear for removal proceedings due to criminal convictions, don’t give up hope. There may be some strong arguments to defend against your deportation and our experienced attorneys are prepared to help guide you through this process, so don’t hesitate to Contact Us!