Unfortunately there are immigrants in the US who have been living here for many years who may have gotten into trouble with the law. Some of these crimes happened many years ago while others may be more recent. With deportation priorities for ICE being more strict, what does this mean for individuals in the US without papers?
Immigration law is very strict when it comes to individuals who commit crimes. This is because the people of the United States do not want to open the door for trouble makers or criminals who create problems and difficulties for citizens, permanent residents or visitors to the US. Many people are here because they have fled the problems they had in their native countries. These people deserve to pursue their lives without being threatened or endangered by others.
The first thing immigration looks at to see if someone should be removed from the US is usually whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor. Most people know that a felony is a serious crime and will probably lead to being deported and that most minor crimes will not. Because misdemeanors are usually minor crimes, they do not rise to the level that will put someone on the deportation list for ICE and will only require paying court fees or fines.
There are special types of crimes that, although may be considered misdemeanors, they violate our idea of acceptable morality. These are often called “crimes of moral turpitude” and relate to conduct that is inherently “base, vile or depraved and contrary to the accepted rules of morality in general.” When someone commits one of these crimes even if they are misdemeanors, they will lead to deportation. Because it is often difficult to determine if a crime violates this standard, it is very important for you to speak with an experienced immigration attorney.
Other criminal areas ICE looks at is whether the crime involved a controlled substance (drugs). It is no surprise that illegal drugs are no tolerated by law enforcement or by immigration. Any crimes that involve someone using, distributing or even being convicted of the possession of drugs can be removed from the US. Other miscellaneous crimes that immigration is obligated to try to deport over are: prostitution, espionage, sabotage, terrorism or attempts to overthrow the government.
Although some crimes are not particularly serious by themselves or do not rise to the level of deportation, multiple convictions can make someone a priority for deportation who might not otherwise be. ICE will deport people with two or more offenses regardless of whether the conviction was in a single trial or whether the offenses arose from a single criminal act.
If you have any sort of criminal past, your next questions are: what are my options if immigration picks me up and what crimes can be overcome allowing me to stay in the US? Both questions are easy to answer, but more difficult to resolve. The answer is to speak with an immigration attorney since only they will be able to properly analyze how your crime fits into the deportation process and what your defenses are.
When you meet with the attorney, you (or your family) should bring as much information as possible to the meeting so the attorney can properly evaluate your case. The attorney will look at your current immigration status, immigration history, the amount of time you have been in the US, who and how many US citizen relatives you have and many other important details that may help you with your defense.