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Supreme Court increases burden on immigrants facing deportation

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) recently ruled on a case that provides some guidance on criminal convictions and deportation. It is common knowledge that criminal convictions can result in deportation for those who did not enter the country legally. The details of how this process works can be confusing. This case provides some guidance.

What were the details of this case?

This case involves Clemente Avelino Pereida, an immigrant who entered the United States over two decades ago. While in the country, Nevada officials convicted Mr. Pereida for using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job. This led to a criminal impersonation conviction, a misdemeanor which did not include jail time. The state required he pay a $100 fine as a result of the conviction. However, since he did not enter the country legally, the government moved forward with deportation efforts.

Mr. Pereida sought relief when he faced deportation. Relief, or the ability to avoid deportation, is available if the individual facing deportation can show that they are eligible. An individual must meet various criteria to qualify for relief, but the relevant criterion in this case was whether or not the conviction was serious enough to disqualify the immigrant from relief from deportation.

What type of convictions are serious enough to result in deportation?

In general, crimes that result in deportation are those involving “moral turpitude.” There are some crimes within the category of criminal impersonation in Nevada law, but Mr. Pereida’s conviction was unclear. The court stated it was Mr. Pereida’s responsibility to show if the conviction qualified for relief or not.

Ultimately, the court stated that Mr. Pereida did not qualify for relief from deportation because he could not clearly establish his conviction did not fall within the definition of moral turpitude.

How does this decision impact immigrants in the United States?

Rulings issued by SCOTUS are precedent throughout the country. That means that they will impact other immigration cases with similar fact patterns in every state, not just Nevada. This makes it imperative that those who face potential deportation due to the presence of a criminal conviction gather evidence to build their case. The burden is not on the government. The immigrant bears responsibility for showing that they should remain. It is imperative that those in this situation do not take the matter lightly. It is wise to seek legal counsel experienced in this niche area of the law to better ensure their legal rights are protected.