Aliens Face Removal for Animal Fighting
BIA favors IRLI’s position on crimes involving moral turpitude
WASHINGTON—In a victory for the interests of the American people, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has ruled that a conviction under a federal law prohibiting sponsoring or exhibiting an animal fighting venture constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), thus subjecting the alien to removal from the United States. The ruling was consistent with the positions argued in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
In its brief, FAIR advised the BIA that a conviction for sponsoring or exhibiting an animal fighting venture fulfills both CIMT requirements: reprehensible conduct and a requisite mental state. First, animal fighting is a “base, depraved, and vile” crime that forces two animals to fight to the death purely for the entertainment of onlookers. Second, the relevant federal law requires that the defendant knowingly sponsor or exhibit an animal fighting venture. The BIA has previously found that the mental state of “knowingly” is sufficient for a CIMT finding.
FAIR also advised the BIA that it should not apply a requirement of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that victims of a crime that is not a fraud must be in a “protected class” in order for the crime to be a CIMT—a test that would exclude crimes that victimize animals. FAIR pointed out that the BIA had previously dismissed this “protected class of victim” requirement, and those decisions are entitled to deference. The BIA sided with FAIR and ruled that the “protected class of victim” analysis is not determinative and the alien should be removed from the United States.
“The BIA should be applauded for its good judgment in this matter,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Animal fighting is a cruel, sickening activity that clearly should be classified as a crime involving moral turpitude. Aliens engaging in this behavior should rightfully be subject to removal.”
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