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Even small charges can lead to deportation

It is often difficult for non-citizens living in the United States to get a firm grasp on what may or may not threaten their ability to remain here in the country. This can even vary from state to state, and in many cases, agencies that enforce immigration law become overzealous and may act to deport an individual unjustly. The truth is that the law surrounding immigration and criminal charges can be vague, but it is still the law, not a deck of Tarot cards or tea leaves to be read.

What may surprise many people is that, in a lot of cases, the severity of a charge is often less relevant to their immigration status than the kind of charges they face. While many legal authorities oppose the practice, Congress passed legislation in 1998 detailing a list of charges called "aggravated felonies" that can trigger a deportation. In the two decades since aggravated felonies were introduced, the list has expanded significantly, and continues to do so. The strange part is that many of these charges would merely be misdemeanors for full-fledged citizens. Aggravated felonies can include relatively small things such as failing to appear in court, or filing your taxes fraudulently.

Deportation may also be triggered by "crimes of oral turpitude," which can also include relatively small offenses. In general, these imply that the party accused of such a crime violated another person's trust. This can include child abuse or embezzlement, but can also extend to shoplifting or petty theft, which is usually only a misdemeanor.

If you are facing any charges at all, you must seek professional legal counsel immediately. If you are convicted of your charges and they fall within a category that triggers deportation, you may not only have to leave the country, you might never be allowed to return. Do not wait to reach out to an experienced immigration attorney who can help fight for your future and protect your rights.

Source: findlaw, "Will a Misdemeanor Conviction Affect My Immigration Status?," George Khoury, April 07, 2017

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