Discussion Points for Punto Legal- July 20, 2016
In 2006, anti-immigrant forces in the U.S. started an anti-immigrant program call Attrition through Enforcement. In other words, they deliberately tried to make life so miserable that immigrants would go home. In 2006, for example, Colorado cancelled the driver’s licenses of everyone who did not have a valid social security number. The idea of Attrition through Enforcement did not work, but it did influence how immigration judges and federal court judges interpreted the law.
Let me give you an example. The lowest level assault offense in Colorado is called Assault in the Third Degree. It is a misdemeanor. It is also often charged in domestic violence cases. Up until 2006, no one thought that it could be classified as a crime involving moral turpitude. But, because of the anti-immigrant sentiment in the county, judges began to do so. Why is this important? It is important because if you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, you can’t get an immigration bond and you have a bar to entry or castigo. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has begun to turn these bad ruling around. A federal court of appeals –following a Supreme Court case- has said that a Texas assault law, just like Colorado’s Assault in the third degree, is not a crime involving moral turpitude. So, if you have been denied an immigration benefit or have failed to take advantage of an immigration benefit because of an Assault in the Third Degree conviction, there is good news for you.
Last week I saw a young man who had Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. He wanted to renew his work authorization. But, he had taken a deferred sentence to a felony theft charge. He will not be able to renew his DACA until he successfully completes the deferred sentence in two years. Then he can reapply for DACA and the immigration service will look at his case to see if he is deserving or DACA. He took a plea bargain from the district attorney without a lawyer. If you have an immigration benefit, see an immigration attorney before you take a deal from the district attorney. I am sure that this young man could have reached an agreement and to have been given a minor theft offense, then he could have renewed his DACA.