As long as someone is a non-U.S. citizen and they are in the United States, they can be subject to removal proceedings if they violate certain state and federal laws. On the other hand, if a Green Card holder becomes a U.S. citizen, he or she is no longer threatened by the possibility of deportation.
In the U.S., an immigrant is subject to removal proceedings if he or she commits a “crime of moral turpitude,” but what counts as a crime involving moral turpitude? According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “The term of moral turpitude is not defined under federal law. However, courts in the United States have defined it generally as an act that is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”
If you are facing criminal charges and you fear deportation, your case must be reviewed by an experienced immigration attorney to determine if you are being accused of a crime involving moral turpitude.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) discusses the “general classes of deportable aliens.” While many of these classes involve immigrants, who commit immigration crimes such as violating a nonimmigrant status or condition of entry, they also include crimes of moral turpitude, which include but are not limited to:
- Theft-related crimes
- Fraud-related crimes
- Domestic violence (against a spouse or child)
- Manslaughter or murder
- Sexual assault
- Robbery or burglary
- Aggravated assault (e.g. beating someone)
- Animal fighting (e.g. dog fighting)
If you are already in the U.S. on a Green Card and you are convicted for one of the above crimes of moral turpitude, it can trigger removal (deportation) proceedings. Furthermore, if you’re convicted of one of these crimes, it could prevent you from showing the USCIS that you have a good moral character. In other words, a conviction can block you from obtaining U.S. citizenship if that is your goal.