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Trump’s Plan to Prioritize Deportation of Immigrants with Criminal History

handcuffs-308899_640Documented and Undocumented immigrants are understandably worried about what will happen in January when President-Elect Trump takes the Oath of Office.  Although his campaign began with a pledge to build a wall and immediately deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families, Trump seems to continue to walk back that promise.  In recent interviews Trump limited his threat of immediate deportation to those immigrants with criminal history.  As I discussed in a previous blog posts, that sounds sounds very much like Obama’s Enforcement Priorities for the Apprehension and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.  It remains to be seen whether Trump can expedite removals without due process and a hearing before an immigration judge, protections that found in the current law.  Although most convictions for crimes trigger removability or inadmissibility, defenses are available to remain in the United States, and in some cases receive or maintain legal permanent residence status.    Some of these defenses come in the form of waivers.  There are many different types of waivers in the immigration law, but generally a 212(h) waiver can waive some criminal grounds of inadmissibility.   At 212h waiver can waive an admission for conviction for crimes of moral turpitude, engaging in prostitution, and conviction of two or more offenses of any kind with an aggregate sentence imposed of a least five years.  It cannot waive drug offenses for anything other than possession of under 30 grams of marijuana.  Also – it may not available to certain Legal Permanent Residents who have not held Legal Permanent Residence Status for 7 years prior to being put into removal proceedings.  In most 212h cases, the waivers require a finding of extreme hardship to a lawful permanent resident or United States Citizen spouse, child or parent. The law is very complicated in the area and one would be wise to seek counsel from an experienced attorney if you are placed in removal proceedings for a criminal conviction.  More about waivers – including provisional waivers for unlawful presence bars next week.