August 2, 2008
Old Criminal Convictions Haunt Immigrants
Since the 1996 immigration reforms, the United States has been enforcing record numbers of immigrants every year, many based on criminal convictions. For a thoughtful discussion of the harshness of many of these deportations, see Bill Ong Hing, Deporting Our Souls (2006). My colleague Jennifer Chacón also has written thoughtfully on this topic.
Jesus Collado, a lawful permanent resident who faced exclusion, detention, and deportation for a decades old (and relatively minor) criminal conviction, is the poster child for the harshness of the 1996 reforms. "Criminal aliens," whose convictions range from relatively minor crimes (e.g., possession of a small amount of marajuana) to truly major crimes (e.g., murder), often face mandatory detention and have had to fight to ensure judicial review of their removals. All of this has made the deportation defense work of immigration attorneys and immigration clinics much more difficult than it previously had been.
The Washington Post has an article today that reminds us of the harsh treatment of "criminal aliens" under current U.S. immigration law: "Lawyers and activists [report] a rising number of legal immigrants with relatively old and minor criminal records to be snagged in the federal government's stepped-up efforts to deport those whom authorities refer to as `criminal aliens.'"
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According to the New York Times, Collado was convicted of statutorily raping a 13 year old child.
In my opinion, this is not a "relatively minor" conviction.
Posted by: Carlos Miranda-Fuentes | Aug 3, 2008 5:04:08 PM
The facts of Jesus Collado's conviction, which would not have subjected him to deportation under the law in effect when the crime was committed, are described by www.visalaw.com (http://www.visalaw.com/98sep/19sep98.html):
"The case involves Jesus Collado-Munoz, a national of the Dominican Republic who has been a green card holder for more than 25 years. After leaving the US for two weeks last year to visit his native country, he was charged by the INS with inadmissibility under Section 212(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act based on a 1974 conviction of sexual abuse of a minor. The facts of that case were more innocuous than the charges sound - Collado was a young man in his late teens and was charged with having sex with his girlfriend who was a minor just a few years younger. Collado received three years probation for that offence and has had no trouble with the law since then."
For more about the Collado case, which is well-known among immigration attorneys and lawyers and is the subject of a film directed by Barbara Kopple, With Liberty and Justice for All, see http://www.thefreelibrary.com/No+justice+for+immigrants-a019952804
As the N.Y. Times story linked in the original blog entry reports, Collado was able to resist deportation and return to his faily and restaurant in New York. It appears that he has mot had any brushes with the law since.
Posted by: KJ | Aug 4, 2008 5:03:36 AM