Interviewer: Everyone who commits a crime in Arizona is not born there. How does accusation of a crime affect the immigration status of non-citizens and even people who are naturalized?
Mike: In Arizona, we have non-citizens accused of committing crimes every day. If illegal immigrants are convicted of a crime, it will affect their ability to stay in Arizona and in this country. People with green cards, or legal resident aliens, can also lose their legal resident status.
It’s very important that people on legal resident status get good legal representation so they don’t get deported. Meanwhile, illegal immigrants accused of a crime are moved to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Once ICE gets a hold of them, they’re going to deport them regardless of how the case resolves; and even if it is dismissed.
Legal resident aliens, or people with green cards, are here legally. A lot of these people lived here for a long time and have the right to work here. However, one of the conditions of being here is they have to be a law abiding citizen like everyone else. If they’re accused of a crime, they need to worry about what they’re accused of, and their immigration status.
Before going to trial or taking a plea agreement, know that pleading guilty or being convicted of a crime could affect your immigration status if you are not a United States citizen. Non-citizens need to find a criminal lawyer who understands immigration law and can advise them. Sometimes they need to find a separate immigration lawyer and have a consultation.
Under immigration law, it’s possible a legal resident alien can commit a crime and still be allowed to stay in the United States. However, there are certain types of crimes where that’s not the case. The focus is whether or not the crime was one of moral turpitude. Certain crimes fall into that category and lead to deportation.