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Supreme Court Opens New Deportation Defense Doors

June 15, 2010

Supreme Court Carachuri-Rosendo Decision Opens Deportation Defense Doors For Lawful Permanent Residents

Lawful permanent residents won a major immigration law decision today.

The Supreme Court stopped the government from automatically deporting lawful permanent residents for minor drug possession convictions.

An Immigration Attorney’s Dream Come True: The Chance To Fight Back For Immigrant Clients

The court, in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, may have spared thousands of permanent residents.  These immigrants, who do not have any other convictions, will now be entitled to a deportation and removal trial, before the government can remove them back to their home country.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, the government was allowed to classify many of these minor convictions as “aggravated felonies.”  Under the law, if an immigrant has committed an aggravated felony, they faced an automatic deportation.

These deportations would take place without a full hearing on the merits.

With clients as a immigration lawyer in Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Escondido, and Hemet,  nothing seemed more unfair than rules which did not permit LPRs to show the court they deserved to be given a second chance to remain here.

Justice John Paul Stevens was especially critical of the government’s position.  He wrote, “We do not usually think of a 10-day sentence for the unauthorized possession of a trivial amount of prescription drug as an “aggravated felony.”

“Congress, like ‘Humpty Dumpty’, has the power to give words unorthodox meanings,” Justice Stevens added, “but there is no evidence that Congress meant to make minor drug offenses into aggravated felonies.”

The Effect of Carachuri-Rosendo For Lawful Permanent Residents

The Supreme Court’s ruling does not mean lawfully admitted permanent residents can simply walk away from their past convictions.

It means they will not be automatically deported for certain convictions.

It means they can fight back.

It means they will be entitled to a hearing before the immigration court judge to ask permission to remain in the United States.

It means, in immigration deportation proceedings, they can ask for cancellation of removal and other forms of relief – which may enable them to win their immigration court case.

It means they may be allowed to remain in the United States with their family and children.

However, trying to prove you should be allowed to remain in the United States is not simple.  Going to immigration court and trying to win a trial is not easy.

LPRs who find themselves in this situation should seek the advice of an experienced, competent deportation and removal defense lawyer.

Most immigrants simply cannot win their case at immigration court alone.

How Many Immigrants With Green Cards Will Benefit?

From my various law offices – as a San Diego, Hemet, Escondido, San Bernardino, and Riverside immigration attorney – I have painfully seen the failure of immigration law to differentiate major from minor convictions.  I have fought against the hardship this failure has created for many, many immigrant families.

The estimated impact of deportation on the families to LPRs is staggering:

  • Between 1997 to 2007, about 60,000 lawful permanent residents were deported for minor offenses.
  • On the average, the deported LPRs had lived in the U.S. over 10 years.
  • The deported LPRs had approximately 103,000 children, and 88,000 were U.S. citizens.  Half of the U.S. citizen children were under the age of 5.
  • A large amount of these U.S. citizen children were separated from their LPR parents permanently.

As I noted in Deportation Defense: The Battle To Distinguish Major And Minor Criminal Convictions, for over a decade, immigration judges have been deprived of using discretion to figure out which immigrants deserve a second chance.

The Supreme Court has now restored some balance to the immigration process.

Now, some immigrants, who had no open doors, will have an opportunity to prove they deserve to continue living in the United States.

By , Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics

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