Up until last month, approximately 200 individuals in Pennsylvania were arrested by federal immigration officials. These arrests were part of a larger operation that resulted in the arrest of 248 people in four states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Delaware. The arrests were aimed at individuals who violated federal immigration laws, such as laws regarding reentry and those who had committed criminal offenses while residing in the United States as aliens.
Legitimate Arrests or Mean-Spirited Punitive Actions?
The arrests did result in the detention of numerous individuals with criminal histories, some of whom who had previously been deported from the United States and re-entered the country. According to ICE’s news release about the arrests, the actions were part of normal, day-to-day operations. However, immigration advocates called these arrests “mean-spirited” and “punitive.”
Deportation as a Criminal Penalty
For any non-citizen, even legal permanent residents of the United States, a possible penalty for the criminal conviction of certain offenses is removal from the United States. This became law in 1996 with the signing of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
Offenses that can result in deportation of a convicted individual include:
- Violent offenses, such as murder, felony assault, and rape,
- Firearms offenses,
- DUI offenses that cause destruction of property,
- Certain financial offenses, such as money laundering,
- Domestic violence offenses,
- Drug-related convictions, and
- Crimes of moral turpitude. These are offenses that reflect negatively on the offender’s ability to conform to social rules regarding ethics and morality. Crimes of moral turpitude are not specific criminal offenses. Rather, the title can be applied to any criminal offense deemed to be gravely at odds with accepted community standards.
Criminal defense is complicated, particularly when dealing with crimes of moral turpitude. Those facing deportation are urged to work with lawyers with specific experience representing immigrants.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Represent Immigrants Facing Legal Difficulties
For compassionate legal aid as you work through the challenges of living in a new country and becoming an American citizen, work with an experienced Philadelphia immigration law firm. Fill out our online form or call 215-925-4435 to set up your initial consultation with a member of Surin & Griffin, P.C. Our office is located in Philadelphia and our Philadelphia immigration lawyers work with clients from Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Darby, Wynnewood, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, Narberth, Folcroft, Cheltenham, Clifton Heights, Lansdowne, Glenolden, Drexel Hill, Elkins Park, Havertown, Norwood, Ardmore, Holmes, Essington, Wyncote, Prospect Park, as well as Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.