A recent Supreme Court ruling has made it easier for officials to deport immigrants who have been convicted of a crime.
On June 15, the Supreme Court unanimously issued in the Nijhawan v. Holder case that immigration officials could deport individuals based on information not specifically determined by a jury or a judge as grounds for a criminal conviction.
Manoj Nijhawan had been convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering where he was employed. Though the jury’s verdict was not based on statutes involving the amount of money laundered by Nijhawan, the court pinned more than $10,000 to the case for the purpose of federal sentencing guidelines.
Deportation proceedings were issued against Nijhawan while he was serving his sentence. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, noncitizens can be deported for ‘aggravated felonies.’ This includes fraud that surpasses a loss of $10,000.
The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) along with its affiliates rallied with the National Council of La Raza and 12 other organizations in March to support Nijhawan.
“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided to eschew the categorical approach,” said AAJC Deputy Director Vincent Eng. “Giving courts the authority to look beyond the facts determined in a criminal conviction undermines individuals’ rights to due process and fairness.”
The Supreme Court stated that the $10,000 was not the primary concern of the fraud charges. The more important aspects involved the specific circumstances in which the crime was committed.
“As applied, the Court’s decision may yield different outcomes for individuals with similar offenses,” said Tuyet Duong, senior staff attorney for immigration at AAJC. “Immigrants and their counsel need to be able to make decisions that are based upon consistent and objective standards.”
The Asian American Justice Center is a national organization dedicated to defending and advancing the civil and human rights of Asian Americans. ♦
For more information, visit www.advancingequality.org.