IRLI Defends Government Authority to Remove Criminal Aliens

Press Releases

March 23, 2018

Ensuring the safety and security of our communities

WASHINGTON – The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) on whether an alien can be removed for committing an aggravated felony when the state statute the alien violated includes more than one kind of aggravated felony. The case involved New York’s larceny statute, which includes some subsections that are aggravated felonies because they are “theft offenses” and others that are aggravated felonies because they are offenses that involve “fraud or deceit.” Regardless, all subsections are aggravated felonies under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and thus a basis for removal.

While the underlying question and analysis are extremely technical, IRLI urged the BIA to find that when a statute includes more than one type of aggravated felony, the statute is still categorically an aggravated felony statute, and thus an alien is removable for a conviction under it. The approach IRLI advocated would ensure that aliens who committed aggravated felonies do not remain in the country on a technicality when it is obvious from the language of the statute of conviction that Congress wanted aliens removed for committing such offenses.

“A major priority in immigration enforcement is removing aliens who have committed serious crimes from the country,” commented Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s executive director and general counsel. “By fiddling with definitions in federal law, attorneys for criminal aliens have made that priority less achievable. But no court should use a legal test for ‘aggravated felony’ that puts Americans at risk,” Wilcox went on. “We are more than happy to help the BIA arrive at an approach that fulfills the purpose of the law and puts the safety of the American people front and center.”

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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