Arrest And Deportation
Even if a person has been admitted to the U.S., he may still be forced by the INS to leave the country, through a procedure known as “removal” or “deportation.” The basis for removal depends on whether the person is seeking admission or whether he is being removed after entering the country for committing a crime.
Someone who arrives without travel documents or with questionable documents and is not seeking asylum and is not a permanent resident or does not claim to be a U.S. citizen will likely be turned away without more than a quick interview with an immigration officer.
There are five broad categories of grounds for deportation: 1) entering the country without proper authority; 2) “status violators”, who violate the terms of their admission or work without permission; 3) persons with a broad range of criminal convictions; 4) persons who are members of certain prohibited organizations (such as communists); and 5) certain people who become public charges within 5 years of entering the U.S.
Deportation For Crimes
In recent years Congress has become increasingly concerned about non-citizens engaged in criminal activity. Under the Trump administration, non-citizens or those here without a legal status, will be subject to immediate deportation should they have a criminal record. As a result, there are numerous provisions of the immigration law that increase the pressures on non-citizens who commit crimes. A person who is seeking permanent residence and has a criminal record will find it extremely difficult to obtain status here and those that are here stand the chance of being deported. Similarly, a permanent resident or other non-citizen who commits a crime will likely face deportation. In addition, there are certain categories of crimes for which a person might have been convicted in the past that could place the non-citizen’s right to remain here in serious jeopardy – even if he has been in the U.S. all of his life. These criminal provisions of the immigration laws require that the INS place its highest priority on the deportation of persons in state and federal prisons, especially for violent crimes.
The harshest penalties are reserved for a category of crimes called “aggravated felonies.” With a few exceptions, it does not matter how or when the person may have been convicted of the aggravated felony. It also does not matter that the person pleaded guilty or nolo contendre (no contest) or went through an entire trial – the only thing the immigration judge is concerned about is whether the person was convicted of an aggravated felony.
Aggravated felonies include crimes such as murder, rape, illicit trafficking in a controlled substance, money laundering in transactions in exceeding $10,000, firearms, explosives or arson charges, any crime of violence, whether against people or property, for which the term of imprisonment imposed is at least 1 year, theft offenses, “national defense” offenses (such as transmitting certain defense information), commercial bribery, counterfeiting, forgery, trafficking in vehicles with altered identification numbers, and perjury. Foreign convictions will have the same effect, where the term of imprisonment was completed within the last 15 years.
What To Do About Convictions
An experienced immigration attorney should be consulted to determine the effect of any conviction on your right to stay in the country. There might be a possibility of overturning the conviction or reducing the charge (perhaps because you pleaded guilty without being told that the conviction could lead to deportation).
If you were not convicted of an “aggravated” felony and do not present a danger to the community, your attorney might be able to seek asylum for you.