Supreme Court Ruling on Deportation

June 28, 2018

Philadelphia immigration lawyers report on recent U.S. Supreme Court deportation rulingThe United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision making it more difficult for the government to deport certain immigrants who have been convicted of crimes back to their home countries.

In the matter of Sessions v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court examined language in the Immigration and Nationality Act which allows for the detention and deportation of any foreign individual convicted of an “aggravated felony” including a “crime of violence.” The case involved a green card holder from the Philippines living in the United States since 1992 who was convicted of several home burglaries in California.

Following his arrests, he lost his green card holder status and was placed on a deportation list on the basis that first degree burglary is a “crime of violence.” The accused man filed suit with the Board of Immigration Appeals to reverse its decision to remove his green card and deport him.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of the man, finding that the vague language of the Immigration and Nationality Act did not clearly define burglary as a violent crime. The Supreme Court highlighted that the broad miscellaneous category of “crimes of violence” included language that the crime must involve “a substantial risk” that physical force would be used against a person or property of another. This language leaves it at the discretion of the Board of Immigration Appeals to make the determination of what should constitute an “aggravated felony.”

Vague Language and Violent Intent

Since the man showed no signs of intent to use physical violence when he committed his crimes, the Justices found the vague definition would not be applicable.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court stated that convictions for the “aggravated felonies” clearly defined by the Act (including murder, rape and sexual abuse of a minor) remained legitimate reasons for deportation.

Immigrant advocates believe that thousands of immigrants will benefit from this Supreme Court ruling, which makes it more difficult to deport individuals convicted of certain sexual and kidnapping offenses. In several particular cases, advocates argue, due to the vague definition of “crime of violence”, the threat of deportation is over-ambitious and harsh.

One example involves a Cambodian man who plead guilty to participation in a bar fight, despite hiding out in a bathroom at the time. Another involves a Salvadoran man who made threats with a baseball bat, in self-defense, after a gang of white men followed him home.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Handle Deportation Matters

If you or a loved one is facing deportation, the experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC are here to help. We proudly represent immigrants and their families in matters related to deportation, naturalization, visa approvals, green cards, asylum and other citizenship issues. To schedule a confidential initial consultation, contact us at 215-496-0690 or submit an online inquiry form. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, and we represent clients across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.