Felonies and Deportation

Felonies and Deportation

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Felonies and Deportation
Background of Aggravated Felonies and Deportation
 
 
The past century has seen drastic changes in U.S. immigration law. From the very first statutes mentioning deportation in the 18th Century, to the extreme influx of immigrants in the first decades of the 20th Century, laws have naturally evolved together with the changing times and the conditions which defined those times.
Basic Law Behind Aggravated Felonies and Deportation
 
 
While the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, initially based any crimes of "moral turpitude" accountable to deportation proceedings- basically, any crimes with deliberate intent to cause harm- the vagueness of the statute quickly prompted the formation of more specific conditions surrounding offenses. 
 
 
With the Anti-Drug Abuse Act signed in 1988, "aggravated felonies" were inserted into the immigration law to signify crimes that warranted deportation, among other consequences, of a non-citizen. Even though the crimes were limited to murder, drug-crimes, and firearm (and other dangerous devices) crimes at first, since then the list of aggravated felonies has grown to include many crimes which range in severity, often unfairly so. 
 
 
Although the INA encompasses many other areas of immigration law-there are 50 Titles, which are further grouped into chapters, and subchapters, etc.- Title 8 pertains to "Aliens and Nationality" in detail. Besides defining who exactly is considered a non-citizen and what precise areas of crime are considered to be "aggravated felonies," the section is responsible for stating other offenses of both illegal and currently legal aliens which have the potential to result in a permanent exile from the United States. 
Aggravated Felonies
 
 
The most important factor regarding an aggravated felony is that although the term itself implies a violent or serious crime, an aggravated felony is, in most cases, neither of the two. In the simplest sense, aggravated felonies were coined to describe a range of "deportable" crimes, and if convicted of such, non-citizens of the U.S. would quickly be faced with the punishment of deportation. 
 
 
Although many offenses have been tacked on the the scope of aggravated felonies in the past decades, the provisions still allow for a good amount of interpretation, which naturally causes serious discrepancies within the deportation system. 
 
 
Currently, an aggravated felony can connote, but is not limited to, murder, rape, an offense against a minor, any drug-trafficking crime, forgery, prostitution, racketeering, any crime of theft, passport fraud, and perjury. Any attempts to commit such crimes, among many others, can result in serious consequences including deportation. 
 
 
Statistics
 
 
Every month, hundreds of non-citizens of the United States are deported to their country of origin. Annually, this number grows to hundreds of thousands of aliens, many of which have committed crimes deemed "deportable" by immigration law. While the addition of the aggravated felony provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which lists a wide range of both serious and seemingly petty crimes as being subject to deportation proceedings, may lead to the assumption that most deportations occur as a result of such a law, the fact of the matter is that crime statistics pertaining to aggravated felonies are, in many ways, non-existent.
 
 
One can assume, of course, that the reasons for deportation are based on similar reasons, but the failure of immigration officials to supply the data makes the notion somewhat questionable as well. What the data available does show about deportation and criminal activity is that only half of the roughly 30,000 or so aliens in current detainment- primarily, under Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE- are considered "felons," under one terminology or another. Out of these 30,000 individuals, however, only 10% of the crimes committed are deemed as being crimes of violence. 
 
 
Challenges to Current System   
 
 
Although supporters of harsh immigration laws and deportation proceedings will argue that the aggravated felony provision, and other deportable reasons like it, ensure the safety of the American nation, those against the current system will contest that there are severe glitches which allow for too much interpretation when it comes to "crimes" and too absolute of rules associated with those crimes. 
 
 
Due to the high number of authorized permanent residents that have faced deportation proceedings for the mistakes long of their past, as well as the high number of petty misdemeanors which are convicted as aggravated felonies, some worry that too much time and money for initial detainment, processing, jail time, and the actual deportation itself is being spent on non-citizens with seemingly minor offenses, when resources should instead be put toward tracking down the more serious of criminal aliens.  
Impact of Aggravated Felonies  
 
 
In the end, though, regardless of what reasons a non-citizen is charged with an aggravated felony- be it a DUI charge, illegal re-entrance to the U.S., a violent assault, or conspiracy to commit an aggravated felony- the consequences of the conviction is very severe. 
 
 
Although the representation of a specialized immigration lawyer will undoubtedly increase the chances of an unfair conviction being successfully argued against in a higher Federal court, the fact of the matter is that if an individual facing deportation proceedings cannot afford an attorney, one will not be provided for them, and thus, detainment and deportation is, in many ways, inevitable. 
 
 
Aggravated felony convictions are detained from the start of their initial charge all the way to their actual deportation, do not have the right to waive their deportation, lose their resident status and do not have the possibility of requesting any other resident status, and will not be brought to a Federal court to appeal aggravated felony charges unless special permission is granted. Most importantly, the convicted will be permanently deported from the U.S.

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