Supreme Court Immigration Ruling on Crimes of Violence

In a recent 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court undermined the federal law used to deport immigrants convicted of certain types of crimes. The ruling addressed the law’s definition of “crimes of violence,” calling it unconstitutionally vague and claiming it gives prosecutors and courts arbitrary power to determine what constitutes a violent crime. The ruling is important because according to the Immigration and Nationality Act, crimes of violence are considered aggravated felonies – making their offenders subject to deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security opposes the Court’s ruling, claiming it makes it harder for immigration officials to remove dangerous criminals. The President says the ruling causes a “public safety crisis.” Some immigration law experts say the change does not hinder the removal of violent immigrants because many crimes including rape, murder, and sexual abuse of a minor are still considered aggravated felonies warranting removal.

Sessions vs. Dimaya

The road leading up to this Supreme Court decision began with the case involving James Garcia Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who entered the United States as a permanent lawful resident when he was 13. Dimaya was convicted of first-degree residential burglary twice in California. The Obama administration began process to deport Dimaya and it continued with the Trump administration.

Dimaya’s attorney argued that both crimes were exempt from the “crimes of violence” because no one was injured. An immigration judge countered that any burglary potentially involves the risk of physical violence. The case moved on to the Board of Immigration Appeals which reaffirmed the judge’s ruling, moving the case on to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While Dimaya’s case was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a separate case that the definition of “violent felony” in the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague, prompting the Ninth Circuit to rule the “crime of violence” provision equally vague.

It is important to note that although immigrants accused of violent crimes are no longer subject to automatic deportation under the “crimes of violence” category, that does not mean they are not subject to penalties. Noncitizens who commit crimes and are not deported are subject to the criminal justice system and required to serve their time – if convicted.

New changes in immigration law impact the deportation process for noncitizens. The multilingual immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. offer competent legal guidance for men, women, and children seeking immigration help in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. We understand the fear, anxiety, and stress families’ experience when dealing with deportation asylum, appeals, and family visas. We have been dealing with immigration law for more than 15 years, and we are prepared to work with immigration agencies including ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection on your behalf.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Those Facing Deportation

If you are seeking a knowledgeable and compassionate Philadelphia immigration lawyer, call Surin & Griffin, P.C. at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a case consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia and proudly serve residents throughout the state of Pennsylvania, including those in Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.