Permanent residents (people who have a “green card”) are deportable if they are convicted of an “aggravated felony.” Many crimes are classified as an “aggravated felony” under the immigration laws.
In the past, if a permanent resident was convicted of an aggravated felony, that was akin to a death sentence because there was not much that could be done to prevent the person from being deported. The reason for that is because the immigration laws were interpreted as making permanent residents ineligible for a waiver of deportation if they were convicted of an aggravated felony.
A recent decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit gives new hope to permanent residents who have been convicted of an aggravated felony. In a recent case called Martinez v. Mukasey, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that if a person entered the U.S. and subsequently became a permanent resident, then an aggravated felony by that person does not make him ineligible for a waiver of deportation. If a permanent resident is granted a waiver of deportation, he can remain a permanent resident and avoid being deported. The decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is binding in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Not only does this decision help permanent residents avoid being deported, but it also helps some persons who already have been deported. In the past, permanent residents who were deported for an aggravated felony were essentially barred from ever returning to the United States. Now, our firm is helping these persons return to the U.S. based on the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The bottom line is that this decision gives hope to some persons who did not have much hope before.
Ajay Choudhary is an attorney at Coane and Associates, 1900 West Loop South, Suite 820, Houston, Texas 77027. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his phone number is (713) 850-0066.