How can criminal accusations impact immigration status?

How can criminal accusations impact immigration status?

Texas recently filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming the administration’s policies have led to an increase in “illegal immigrant offenders” let out of state prison and into the general population. The suit claims the administration’s policy has put public safety at risk and are pushing for a more aggressive approach.

The lawsuit provides an opportunity to discuss how our nation handles those who immigrate to the United States and then face allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Does this automatically mean deportation? Although the exact answer depends on the details of the charges and the state, the following provides some general information that is helpful for those trying to navigate this situation.

Can the charges lead to deportation?

Depending on the details, it is possible the government may try to move forward with deportation when a non-citizen faces allegations of criminal wrongdoing. According to a recent publication by PEW Trusts, 50% of the 95,085 immigrants who were targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2015 for possible deportation had convictions for the following:

  • Drunk driving – 6.7%
  • Assault – 4%
  • Drug trafficking – 2.1%
  • Burglary – 1.8%
  • Sale of marijuana – 1.7%
  • Traffic offense – 1.6%

The remaining faced various other charges including sale of cocaine, illegal entry, larceny, and domestic violence.

What types of charges lead to possible deportation?

Those who are convicted of an aggravated felony are at particular risk for deportation. These crimes are not always as harsh as the name would imply. Initially, aggravated felonies included crimes like murder, drug trafficking, and trafficking of weapons and other destructive devices. Since its inception, Congress has expanded the list of aggravated felonies to include 30 different offenses such as a failure to appear in court or consensual sex between a 17-year-old and a 21-year-old.

Crimes of moral turpitude can also result in deportation. Crimes of moral turpitude are those that are immoral or a violation of the basic duties we out owe to our fellow man. The definition is vague, which is frustrating for those who are trying to figure out if their situation qualifies but can include everything from murder to domestic crimes to a hit and run accident.

What are my options if I face these types of charges?

Immigrants who face allegations of criminal wrongdoing are wise to take the matter seriously. The first step is to build a defense to the charges. If successful, this could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.

It is also important to address any concerns that the charges could lead to deportation efforts. An attorney experienced in immigration and criminal defense matters can help you discuss your options and better ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.