The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased their agents by 25% in an attempt to locate and deport immigrants with criminal convictions. Whether a lawful permanent resident, a visa holder, or an entry without inspection, ICE is looking for any non-U.S. citizen with a criminal record that would lead to a charge of removability. See the San Francisco Chronicle for story.
ICE has instructed its agents to focus on illegal immigrants convicted of a felony or more than two misdemeanors, multiple immigration violations or having used fraudulent documents. It has been reported that ICE agents are to shoot for arrested 50 people per month.
ICE isn’t just arresting and deporting illegal immigrants that satisfy the criteria listed above. Anyone who obtains a new conviction is at risk of being placed in removal proceedings at the conclusion of their criminal case. Often, people believe that minor criminal convictions will not lead to deportation. That could not be further from the truth. Even a withhold of adjudication on a minor criminal charge could lead to removal. A petit theft charge for example could be the basis for removal, as a crime involving moral turpitude.
More and more, law enforcement is focusing on people with criminal convictions. That means that it is that much more important to scrutinize a criminal case before entering a plea of guilty, and once you receive a conviction, to consult with an experience criminal and immigration attorney before filing any paperwork with the government, and before leaving and reentering the country.
Even if you have received a prior conviction, it may not be too late. If you were not properly advised of the immigration consequences of your criminal conviction by your criminal lawyer, you may be eligible to go back and challenge that prior conviction.