Ever since Donald Trump was elected to succeed President Barack Obama, immigrants in San Diego and across the United States have been extremely concerned about their future. In February 2017, less than a month after an executive order on immigration was issued by the White House, the Department of Homeland Security issued two memos that suggest how the government may carry out mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens with criminal backgrounds.
What makes the new situation more concerning is Trump’s rhetoric about the crimes that could be considered grounds for deportation. Trump’s narrow thinking presents any contravention to the law as a crime. This dangerous interpretation would justify deporting an immigrant who gets too many parking tickets. The reality is not so far removed from Trump’s view because U.S. immigration law mentions crimes of moral turpitude as being grounds for deportation and removal.
The Moral Turpitude Conundrum
The problem with the concept of moral turpitude is that deportations are supposed to be judicial matters carried out by courts of law, not courts of morality. The Bureau of Immigration Appeals has struggled with moral turpitude, going as far as to call it a nebulous idea.
The Criminal Resource Manual of the U.S. Attorney General offers some guidance with regard to crimes that could be considered moral turpitude: murder, kidnapping, violent robberies, and aggravated assaults. For the purpose of deportation, the crime must have been committed within five years of the immigration. San Diego may be at risk for becoming a key focus for deportations due to its proximity to Mexico.
Immigration courts have a lot more to consider than just moral turpitude. If the crime resulted in a conviction longer than a year, this could also be grounds for deportation. Given the draconian laws that punish drug offenders in the United States, an immigrant who grows marijuana plants in his or her garden could also be deported even if the crime does not fall under moral turpitude.
Multiple convictions are also grounds for deportation, which is another problem because some jurisdictions consider a second offense to be an aggravated felony. An example in this regard would be someone convicted of drinking and driving twice in one year. Unless the consecutive DUIs involved traffic infractions, damage, or injury, they could hardly be considered moral turpitude, and yet they could prompt a deportation order in the Trump era.
Immigration Law Reform
The Bureau of Immigration Appeal is already asking for opinions from the public in a case involving complicity in transporting narcotics in Arizona. In Texas and Michigan, residents are complaining about police officers and immigration agents wasting considerable resources as they raid massage parlors under the pretense of shutting down houses of prostitution.
Immigration reform is desperately needed in the Trump era. The political balance in Congress does not allow for comprehensive reform. However, things may have to change one law at a time or one court case at a time. The best plan of action for immigrants in Southern California is to seek the advice and representation of KS Visa Law, the best immigration lawyers in San Diego. Give us a call today at 858-874-0711 to find out how we can help.