Crimmigration: What You Need to Know

America is often considered the land of opportunities, where people come to get better education, entrepreneurial opportunities, and land their dream jobs. It’s why so many non-citizens flock to the U.S., hoping to build new futures or live out their dreams.

But as a non-citizen, it’s vital to know that one wrong decision or situation can impact your immigration status. The consequences of facing criminal charges can be severe, putting your entire future at stake here in the U.S. This article will explain what crimmigration is and how it works.

What is crimmigration?

In simple terms, crimmigration is where criminal and immigration law intersect. Until the 1980s, citizens and non-citizens were punished the same for crimes, regardless of citizenship status. However, around 35 years ago, things began to change when criminal and immigration laws intersected. When this happened, non-citizens with criminal charges also faced possible immigration penalties.

In today’s political climate, crimmigration is constantly changing. That’s why having the proper legal counsel in these areas is vital.

Why can criminal charges impact immigration status?

As mentioned, United States government agencies have leveraged criminal offenses to reduce overall immigration. And as of 2018, the United States Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) has explained they will pursue removal proceedings for any immigrant convicted of a criminal offense or charged with a criminal offense that hasn’t been resolved.

One of the most significant reasons criminal charges can impact your immigration status is that a candidate must not pose a security risk to the public or the country’s interests for lawful permanent residency. This is in addition to all candidates having good moral character.

Crimmigration law takes the stance that any immigrant who commits a crime violates the tenets of public security and good moral character. This means they will be subject to removal proceedings and deportation.

What criminal offenses lead to deportation?

Being convicted of a serious crime is characteristically grounds for removal, as the courts determine it as a violation of good moral character.

Criminal offenses that lead to deportation

Some common offenses that are considered crimes of bad moral character include the following:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Spousal abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Robbery or theft
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated assault

All in all, anyone convicted of any violent crime like the above will likely involve an immigrant being targeted for removal. Serious drug crimes, firearm crimes, and aggravated felonies can also result in removal proceedings.

In these cases, U.S. immigration authorities will decide whether to pursue deportation. Note that even immigrants who hold green cards (lawful permanent residency) can still be removed from the country despite their status.

Minor criminal offenses that can lead to deportation

In addition to the above, more minor criminal offenses that can lead to removal proceedings under crimmigration policies include:

  • Petty theft
  • Public intoxication
  • Drug possession
  • Academic fraud
  • Domestic violence offenses

Immigrants accused of crimes need strong representation

With crimmigration, having a qualified defense lawyer is no longer enough. This type of legal representation could reduce criminal charges but could place you in a vulnerable position if you are unfamiliar with immigration law.

To protect their chance at citizenship, noncitizens need the legal services of an attorney well-versed in criminal defense and immigration law. Lawyers with this knowledge can anticipate potential immigration consequences when handling defense elements of a case.

Reach out to the Best Crimmigration Lawyers in Fort Worth, TX!

The Meza Law Firm, PLLC, is a bilingual firm with years of experience in immigration and criminal law (crimmigration). Whether you seek a green card, naturalization services, or have been detained by ICE, we are here to help you navigate the system and get the outcome you deserve. Contact us now to schedule a consultation with attorney Edwardo Meza.