According to U.S. immigration law, certain crimes in California can result in deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen. In fact, all immigrants--even green card holders--can be deported if they violate immigration laws.
In general, immigrants can be deported if they are convicted of either a “crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony.” Furthermore, there are specific crimes that qualify as grounds for deportation.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude
The first significant category for deportable crimes consists of “crimes of moral turpitude.” Although the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) does define the term, California and federal courts have defined it as a corruption of the basic social duties which everyone owes to another person and to society entirely. In other words, crimes involving dishonesty, theft, and an intent to harm persons or things often constitute crimes of moral turpitude.
Crimes of moral turpitude include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Grand theft
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Repeated felony DUI convictions
Keep in mind, being convicted of a single crime of moral turpitude does not warrant deportation. Rather, you are deportable if you either (1) are convicted of such a crime for which a prison sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, within five years of being in the United States or (2) are convicted of two or more crimes of moral turpitude that did not occur in one criminal scheme.
There are certain felonies in California that can result in removal from this country. Unlike crimes of moral turpitude, “aggravated felony” is clearly defined in the INA.
Aggravated felonies include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Drug and firearms trafficking
- Child pornography
- Sexual abuse of a minor
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion involving more than $10,000
If you were convicted of an aggravated felony, no matter how long you’ve been living in the United States, deportation is a near certainty. However, if you avoid removal if you can prove it is more likely than not that you would be tortured in your native country upon return.
Other crimes that can lead to deportation for an immigrant include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Drug crimes
- Illegal possession or sales of firearms
- Domestic violence
- Human trafficking
- Child abuse or neglect
- Terrorist activities
Unfortunately, as soon as President Donald Trump took office, he issued several executive orders on immigration, demanding an increase in the number of immigrant deportations. Additionally, Trump discontinued the Priority Enforcement Program established by President Obama, which made the DHIS focus its energies on deporting more serious crimes (i.e. aggravated felonies, gang crimes, or three or more misdemeanors).
So now, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is focusing its resources on all deportable immigrants with any criminal conviction.