For noncitizens residing here in the US, the commission of certain crimes has immigration consequences. It may render them inadmissible and/ or deportable. There are also certain crimes known as CIMT or crimes involving moral turpitude which may preclude eligibility for deportation relief including cancellation of removal. A CIMT has been defined by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) as a crime that is “inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”
In one case, an alien entered the US without inspection and without any legal documents. He was later convicted of abuse of an elderly. When he tried to take advantage of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), his request was denied because of his conviction. On the very same day, he was issued a Notice to Appear by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), charging him with removability because he was an alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and he was an alien convicted of a CIMT.
The immigration judge ordered him removed. He appealed to the BIA contending that he qualified for relief from removal. The BIA determined that he did not qualify for relief because of his conviction for CIMT. He filed a petition for review with the US Court of Appeals but his petition was dismissed.
It is worth noting that in Florida, a criminal conviction for abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult is considered a CIMT and will hold an alien ineligible for relief from removal proceedings based on this criminal conviction.
Under Florida laws, a person who knowingly or willingly abuse an elderly person or disabled adult without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the elderly person or disabled adult commits a felony of the third degree. For the willful act to be considered an “abuse”, it has to be one of the following three alternative ways: (a) intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult; (b) an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult; or (3) active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult.
It is very important for foreign nationals to seek the help of accredited immigration lawyers because CIMTs can affect the immigration status or application for immigration relief. Even those who were initially admitted to the US and travelled to other countries may have difficulty reentering the US because of a CIMT. Those who want to adjust status or become lawful permanent residents may likewise find it challenging if they have a CIMT especially if this happened within five years from admission. Same goes to those who want to apply as US citizens.
Different states have different penal laws as well. Thus, a CIMT in one state may not be a CIMT in another state.
Last year, we successfully represented a Filipino caregiver in her immigration case. She had been convicted of violating the California Penal Code Section 368 (c) for committing the crime of abuse of elder or dependent adult by caretaker. In that case, there was a finding that said caretaker “willfully caused and permitted his ward’s person and health to be injured and willfully caused and permitted the elder victim to be placed in a situation where his person and health have been endangered.”