A permanent resident can be deported for a misdemeanor in Texas in some instances. Deportation depends on the specific crime you commit, as well as the number of convictions of criminal offenses. The federal and state laws surrounding immigration are intentionally vague, making them difficult to fight and win.
Understanding Permanent Resident Status
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) grants any person with permanent resident status, also known as a green card holder, the privilege of living permanently in the United States. However, they do not have the same rights as citizens. They do not have the right to vote, help residents gain legal status, or travel freely. Most importantly, no permanent resident has full protection from deportation.
Any permanent resident who has lived in the country for at least five years or has been married to a U.S. citizen for three years can become a U.S. citizen through naturalization.
The U.S. may deport permanent residents for a single conviction of an aggravated felony, which may include:
- Drug trafficking
- Sexual abuse of a minor
- Statutory rape
- Firearm trafficking
- Tax evasion
- Money laundering
- Child pornography
- Human trafficking
- Terrorist Activity
A green card holder also may be deported for one crime of moral turpitude committed within five years of the individual entering the U.S.
Understanding Crimes of Moral Turpitude
Committing a crime of moral turpitude may lead to deportation or block a person from the opportunity of becoming a U.S. citizen. However, the laws fail to define “moral turpitude” or even list specific crimes that fall under this term. Instead, what constitutes moral turpitude is left to the interpretation of relevant law enforcement officials and the courts. Since Texas takes immigration more severely than other states, you may expect interpretations that are more skewed toward deportation.
Generally, past cases that involve moral turpitude have been described as offenses involving lewd acts that shock the public conscience. Nowhere in the law does it state whether the crime has to be a felony. Therefore, pleading guilty or getting convicted of a misdemeanor that a prosecutor and judge deem a crime of moral turpitude may lead to deportation.
Some crimes that have fallen into this category, based on past cases, include:
- Aggravated assault
- Rape, sexual assault, and other sex crimes
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Animal cruelty, dog fighting
- Drug offenses
- DWI (including those involving accidents, wrecks or injuries)
What to Do If Are Arrested and Have Permanent Resident Status?
Even if you were appointed defense counsel, it is best to reach out to a lawyer with immigration experience. They will best understand how crimes will impact your status as a resident, strategies to minimize the impact, and how to create a strong defense strategy.
An immigration lawyer also can help if you or a loved one is on an immigration detainer.
What Is an Immigration Detainer?
If you are not a U.S. citizen and face detainment for committing a crime, there is a chance you will be placed on immigration hold which means that if the person makes bail, the person transfers to federal custody instead of being released. Most often, holds occur when:
- A permanent resident allegedly committed a deportable offense
- The person has an existing order to leave the country
- The person is in the country illegally
Consult With an Immigration Lawyer in Texas
As immigration continues to be a thorny, controversial issue in the United States, the laws will continue to evolve. A lawyer with immigration experience will be best prepared to fight on your behalf.
Contact us at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg if your immigration status is in jeopardy due to a criminal conviction. Though the crime you committed may be a deportable offense, it does not mean you must return to your country. We can work to have charges dismissed or reduced so that you can avoid deportation.
When you want a firm that will fight to get you justice, turn to us. Call today at (214) 696-9253 to talk to a member of our bilingual team. Our initial case consultation is free.