A Jamaican man was convicted of conspiracy to commit a robbery, and on this basis was found to be removable as an aggravated felon. Respondent filed a motion to terminate, but this was denied by the Immigration Judge, so he appealed, asserting that his conspiracy conviction did not require a finding of commission of an overt act, and thus is not an aggravated felony under 101(a)(43).
The BIA agreed with the Respondent, finding that the Immigration Judge went too far in considering evidence that showed that the conspirators actually did carry out the alleged robbery, saying that only the offense that is actually charged can be considered. Thus, a conviction for conspiracy to commit a theft cannot be considered a theft offense under 101(a)(43)(G), even if there is evidence that the theft was completed. On the issue of the conspiracy conviction, for the purposes of 101(a)(43)(U), the court held that the conspiracy does not require the commission of an overt act. This conclusion was based on the Supreme Court decisions in Whitfield v. US, 543 U.S. 209 and United v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10, which found that Congress had intentionally removed language from the statute negating the need to show an overt act to sustain a finding of conspiracy under the Act. They also looked at the common law meaning of the term conspiracy, which met the same conclusion. Thus, the court held that conspiracy under 101(a)(43)(U) does not require a finding of the commission of an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy by one of the conspirators, and the Respondent was thus still removable.
Matter of Richardson, 25 I&N Dec. 226 (BIA 2010).
18 Mar 2010
Legal Issue: How does the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee for effective assistance of counsel affect a non-citizen where on advice of his criminal defense attorney he pleads guilty to a charge that will cause mandatory deportation in-spite of the attorney’s assurance that deportation was not a consequence. Does this advice amount to ineffective assistance of counsel and allow the setting aside of the guilty plea?
(This case was heard by the Supreme Court in October of 2009 and should be decided in 2010).
6th Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Jose Padilla, a legal permanent resident, originally from Honduras has legally resided in the United States for forty years and served in the United States Army during Vietnam faces deportation after a plea bargain on drug charges. He was thoughtful enough to ask his counsel if his plea would effect his status and he was told that he “did not have to worry about immigration status since he had been in the country so long.” That statement could not be more wrong.
Mr. Padilla (no relationship to the al-Quida suspect) now faces permanent deportation from a country that has been the lawful home to him and his family for forty years. He has petitioned to set aside his guilty plea and go to trial. His case is now pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
18 Mar 2010
The short answer, YES, if it relates to a procedural immigration matter and not expressly prohibited by a statute, it may be reviewed as held in the January 2010 Supreme Court decision of Kucana v Holder. cf 130 S. Ct. 827, (2010). This by no means implies that the Albanian immigrant Agron Kucana will ultimately prevail in his motion to reopen his removal proceedings. The Supreme Court merely reversed the lower court decision against judicial review and remanded the case for further consideration consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision.
Agron Kucana arrived in the United States under a three month Business Visa, he then applied for asylum, however he OVERSLEPT and arrived fifteen minutes after his hearing and was therefore ordered removed in absentia. This saga brings up many important factors in immigration law, including congressional intent, executive discretion and the court’s ability to or in some cases the court’s inability to review. This inability to review is often unique in immigration matters as the congress has nearly plenary power to create immigration law and in many cases can prohibit judicial review.