Grounds for Removal - Criminal Offenses

Grounds for removal generally

The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) ? 237 sets grounds for an alien's removal. There are six categories of "removal" grounds: 1) inadmissible at time of entry or of adjustment of status or violates status; 2) criminal offenses; 3) failure to register and falsification of documents; 4) security and related grounds; 5) public charge; and 6) unlawful voters.

The criminal offenses ground states that an alien can be removed due to his or her criminal activity. This activity includes: crimes of moral turpitude; multiple criminal convictions; conviction of an aggravated felony, conviction of high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint; conviction of a violation of a controlled substances act or proof that the alien is a drug abuser or addict; conviction of certain firearm violations, convictions of espionage, treason, or sedition; crimes of domestic violence, stalking, and child abuse; and violations of protective orders.

General Crimes and Aggravated Felonies

An alien is removable from the United States if he or she is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, the crime occurs within five years of entry into the United States (10 years in cases of legal permanent residents), and the crime is one for which a prison sentence of one year or more may be imposed. An alien also may be removed on the basis of having been convicted of two or more crimes of moral turpitude, regardless of when the crime was committed and regardless of applicable prison sentences.

Any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is removable, as is any alien who is convicted of high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint. An aggravated felony is any one of a number of crimes, usually including violence. Among these crimes are burglary, child pornography, and rape.

If an alien has been pardoned by the President of the United States or a governor of a U.S. state, then the alien may not be removed on the basis of these convictions.

Controlled Substances

An alien is removable from the United States if he or she is convicted of a violation of a law relating to controlled substances. This does not include a single offense involving possession for one's own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana. In addition, an alien is removable if he or she is a drug abuser or addict.

Certain Firearm Offenses

An alien is removable if, after entering the United States, he or she is convicted of purchasing, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing, or carrying, or of attempting or conspiring to do any of those things, any weapon, part, or accessory which is a firearm or destructive device.

Miscellaneous Crimes

If an alien is convicted of any one of a number of miscellaneous crimes (or conspiracy or attempt to commit one of the crimes) at any time after entering the United States, the alien is removable. The crimes include espionage, sabotage, treason, sedition, violations of the Selective Service Act, trading with the enemy, and interfering with the foreign relations or neutrality of the United States.

Crimes of Domestic Violence and Stalking

An alien in the United States may be removed if he or she has been convicted of domestic violence, stalking, violation of a protective order, or crimes against children, including abuse, neglect, and abandonment.