North Carolina residents may have heard about a Supreme Court ruling that could have an impact on immigrants convicted of crimes. According to U.S. law, an immigrant who is convicted of a violent crime is supposed to be deported. However, the Supreme Court said that the law as too vague, which made it unconstitutional. The court sided 5-4 with a legal immigrant from the Philippines who was convicted of burglary in 2007 and 2009.
Justice Kagan said in the court’s ruling that while some courts determined burglary to be a violent crime, others did not see it that way. Justice Gorsuch sided with the majority and concurred with Kagan’s opinion. Justice Roberts disagreed saying that it could call into question other convictions such as having a firearm while committing a crime. Ultimately, the court decided that allowing the courts to decide which crimes were violent, it could lead to arbitrary enforcement of laws.
Taking that approach would go against the Constitution. Under federal law, a crime of violence is one in which violence is used or is at risk of being used to carry it out. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit first ruled that the definition was too vague when deciding immigration cases. As such, it violated their right to due process.
Foreign nationals who are in the United States legally could lose their immigration status if convicted of a violent crime. However, courts are generally divided as to what a violent crime is. Therefore, an individual shouldn’t assume that he or she has committed one regardless of what that person is charged with. Instead, it may be best to work with an attorney who may be able to review the case and help obtain a favorable outcome.