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Can Green Card Holders Be Deported?

Ever since United States President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he has been trying to make good on his campaign promise to deport as many “illegal aliens” as possible. The numbers of foreigners removed from the country in recent years are significant, but the way they’re reported by immigration officials and the White House may lead people to believe all deportations involve undocumented immigrants, but this isn’t the case.

When looking closely at the statistics reported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it’s clear that many deportations involve permanent residents. In fact, a little more than 10 percent of removals are green card holders, and in some cases, they’re even naturalized citizens. 

Green card holders can be deported from the U.S., and the same goes for naturalized citizens in some cases. In November 2019, five members of a New Jersey family who immigrated from Bangladesh were targeted for deportation. Four of them are permanent residents, and one is a naturalized citizen. The reason immigration agents selected this family for deportation and removal was because an estranged relative was caught detonating a homemade explosive device in New York City a couple of years ago.

In the case above, the immigration argument against the family is that they aided an individual who committed an aggravated felony, a category of crimes that can result in deportation proceedings against even green card holders. The problem with classification of crimes under immigration law is that they don’t follow the logic of most criminal and penal codes in the U.S. For example, whereas possession of a small amount of marijuana is considered to be a misdemeanor in many jurisdictions, the immigration system under the Trump administration treats such a crime as drug trafficking.

What’s even more nebulous about criminal activity viewed through the immigration lens is a group of crimes classified as “moral turpitude.” Under this classification, domestic violence, making mistakes on official applications, involuntary manslaughter, and participating in protests that turn violent could be treated as grounds for deportation. If they’re charged with any of these types of offenses or need other forms of U.S. citizenship and immigration services, San Diego residents should seek the counsel of experienced immigration attorneys.

Permanent residents are expected to exhibit exemplary behavior to maintain their legal status in the U.S. To a certain extent, this explains why American law includes the possibility of deporting green card holders who don’t wish to become law-abiding members of their communities. The problem is when overzealous enforcement of immigration policy occurs. Going after permanent residents who drive with suspended licenses or have been fined for possessing small amounts of cannabis is called a “low-hanging fruit” strategy to inflate deportation numbers. Green card holders who face deportation proceedings are entitled to due process and judicial review. For this reason, they should seek counsel from immigration law firms when they face these situations. 

If you’d like more information about green cards and deportation or you need the services of reliable, trustworthy immigration attorneys in San Diego, reach out to KS Visa Law today. Call 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

April 2024