Is an Immigrant Deported if They Break the Law?

There are many reasons why an individual might choose to emigrate to the United States, but in almost all cases, once they have done so successfully, they will do anything in their power to stay and avoid being deported. For those who have entered the country illegally, being caught is the primary impetus for deportation. For those who have an unexpired visa or who have earned their green card and have a permanent right to remain in the country, the biggest vulnerability is in breaking the law. The Immigration and Nationality Act makes clear that United States citizenship and legal status is a privilege that can be removed if you don’t follow the rules of the country. That includes including the rules that apply to everybody, whether immigrant or not, as well as those specific to your immigration status.

The crimes and violations that can lead to deportation of someone whose immigration status had previously been approved include:

  • Visa holders working despite having only been approved as tourists
  • Green card holders and holders of temporary visa failing to submit a change of address to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within ten days
  • Committing certain crimes, including smuggling aliens into the country; document fraud; domestic violence; drug or controlled substance offenses; firearms trafficking; money laundering; fraud; espionage; sabotage; terrorism; rape; murder; aggravated felonies. There is an additional category known as crimes of “moral turpitude” that can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and may only qualify as a misdemeanor under state law but which be used by immigration authorities for deportation if they choose to do so.
  • Determination that the documents or justification of your immigration status were fraudulent, i.e., if you participated in a fraudulent marriage in order to get your green card.
  • Though seeking government assistance is not illegal or a crime, it is a violation of a promise you made when you sought your green card, indicating that you would not become a public charge. Seeking public assistance jeopardizes your status and invites deportation.

The immigration laws of the United States are extremely complicated and can be very confusing. If you need guidance navigating the process to become a citizen or help to avoid deportation, contact our experienced immigration attorneys today.