The new administration’s assault on immigration goes well beyond the travel ban. On January 25, 2017, executive order 13768 entered our lives. Titled: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the order prioritizes removal of aliens:
- who are convicted of any criminal offense;
- who are charged with any criminal offense; and
- those that commit acts that constitute a chargeable offense.
Immigration raids are nothing new to this country. The previous administration had its fair share, but it mainly focused on those posing a threat to national security and recent border crossers. The net cast under this new executive order could result in something we have never seen before. Previously, if you were not a citizen of the United States, and you were charged with a crime, your immigration consequences mainly depended on the type of crime you were charged with and whether you ultimately convicted of that crime. Crimes involving moral turpitude often being the worst. Now, any crime triggers removal. And, most devastating, you do not even have to be convicted of a crime or even charged with it for the act to trigger removal.
Because of this, non-citizens will likely fight every criminal charge tooth-and-nail. How can any criminal defense attorney ethically advise otherwise? But even if the non-citizen prevents a conviction, just being charged with the offense can result in deportation. So, what do attorneys and judges advise these people in court? Do they need to advise them at arraignment that being charged with any crime will result in deportation under this order? I can hear the taped recording now: “even if a jury finds you not guilty, or the prosecutor dismisses your case, you will still be deported.” Or better yet, for those non-defendant non-citizens in the courtroom: “if you commit an act that constitutes a chargeable offense, you too will be deported.” You can almost hear the footsteps running out of the courtroom.
What is an act that constitutes a chargeable offense anyway? If someone sees you driving 100 miles per hour down the road, but you are never charged with the offense of Misdemeanor Speed, is that an act constituting a chargeable offense? While this is an extreme example, can you afford to be unprepared for the extreme under this administration?
Most agree that violent and dangerous non-citizens should face removal. And, the recent raids are catching a fair share of those offenders. But, they are also detaining others who did not face removal in the past. Non-citizens surely cannot be resting easy, especially with a recent executive order to deport those convicted of any crime; charged with any crime; and those committing chargeable acts. Immigration attorneys must already adapt to the new environment and those in the criminal justice are not far behind.
Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis. He is admitted to practice law in state and federal court. He was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for the past two years; and was named a Top 40 Under 40 trial lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Organization for the past three years. Criminal Defense Attorneys St. Paul; Drug Crimes Lawyer Minnesota; and St. Paul MN Criminal Defense Lawyer.