The possibility of deportation for a permanent resident alien is a harrowing experience in the District of Columbia and throughout the country. In many instances, having fought so hard to obtain legal status in the first place, the thought it could all be taken away is quite a bit more than unsettling. It is frightening. But at times immigrants accept jobs that they might not otherwise take because they are fighting to survive and hoping for something better to come along. When some of those jobs border on the illicit, the result could be a permanent trip beyond another type of border, deportation from the United States.
Recently, a permanent resident alien since 1999 faced deportation for his conviction in 2007 of helping further a conspiracy to import aliens into the United States for immoral purposes — prostitution. Federal prosecutors admitted the man’s “role” in the conspiracy was limited to handing out condoms in Minnesota brothels. Though he received a light sentence, he served a prison term and later contested the deportation proceedings that commenced upon his release. He argued that since he had been in the country for five years without any criminal convictions, he was eligible to receive a waiver of deportation. Immigration judges did not agree, and the decision was appealed.
Last month the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court decision and determined the man will not face deportation. It observed that it “strains credulity” to think the man’s job of handing out condoms actively involved him in the planning and orchestration of importing aliens for immoral purposes. The description of the man’s employment responsibilities demonstrates he was not owning, managing or controlling the prostitution business.
While the man is no doubt gratified that he will not have to face deportation for his offense, he had been in legal limbo for four years, ever since his conviction in 2007. It demonstrates the point that these proceedings are complex and involve consideration and application of complicated laws and principles. In the District of Columbia, experienced immigration attorneys intent on helping immigrants acquire and preserve their permanent residency status may help devise a plan to succeed.
Source: The Washington Independent, “Immigrant won’t face deportation over passing out condoms,” Todd A. Heywood, Aug. 29, 2011