Supreme Court Weighs if Burglary Should Trigger Deportation

(LifeZette) The Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments — again — on a case involving a legal immigrant whose burglary conviction triggered a deportation order.

Photo by ThatMattWade

The justices heard arguments on the case in January but split 4-4 and set it for re-argument after the appointment of a justice to fill the vacancy caused by . His replacement, Justice Neil Gorsuch, figures to be the deciding vote.

Under federal law, even a lawful permanent resident can be deported if he or she commits certain crimes. At issue in this case is whether burglary is serious enough to qualify.

PREVIOUSLY: Deportation Orders Surge 28 Percent Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the definition of an “aggravated felony” was unconstitutionally vague. Attorneys for the immigrant, James Garcia Dimaya, argue that it is too difficult to determine whether burglary is a “crime of violence.” They maintain that the issue is the same as a 2015 case in which the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that used the same definition.

Dimaya, who came lawfully to the United States when he was 13 in 1992, got his GED certificate, attended community college, and worked as a cashier and store manager. He pleaded no contest to residential burglary in 2007 and 2009 in California. His attorneys argue that it is wrong to conclude that an “ordinary case” of California’s “extraordinarily broad” burglary offense involves a high enough risk of physical force.

“That analysis is far too arbitrary to permit the Government to exile him forever from the only country he has known since he was 13,” they wrote in their legal brief.

The statute defines an aggravated crime as “any offense that is a felony, that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property, may be used in the commission of the crime.”

Legal experts said the Supreme Court could make the country more dangerous.

“This could have a significant effect on a large number of cases involving aggravated felonies that do not have force as an element but that have a significant risk for force,” said Arthur “Art” Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies. “A lot of dangerous aliens would not be removable if the Supreme Court were to adopt the 9th Circuit’s logic.”

It is difficult to say how many deportations such a ruling might affect. The Department of Homeland Security does not regularly publish statistics breaking down deportations by legal status. But using information gathered in a Freedom of Information Act request, Human Rights Watch reported in 2009 that 10 percent of those deported between 1997 and 2007 had green cards. Another 10 percent were legally present but did not have permanent residency.

Only 7.6 percent of those cases, according to the report, were based on violent crimes against people.

Dimaya’s lawyers argue that ruling in his favor would have a “minimal impact” on immigration enforcement because the issue in dispute would affect only a small number of the 80 crimes defined as an “aggravated felony.”

The government has taken the position that case is different from the one involving the Armed Career Criminal Act. The government notes that deportation proceedings are civil, and carry a lower standard than criminal cases, which can result in imprisonment.

PREVIOUSLY: Illegal Mexicans To Fight Deportations By ‘Jamming US Courts’

Arthur, who served from 1999 to 2001 as assistant general counsel and acting chief of the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s National Security Law Division, said burglary inherently carries a high risk that force will be used because of the likelihood of encountering a home’s occupant during the crime.

“Because of that, burglary the way we classically think of it … is a crime of violence,” he said.

Christopher Hajec, director of litigation at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, agreed.

“There is a large potential to meeting someone who might try to stop you or you might feel the need to subdue,” he said.

Dimaya has attracted support from a group of retired judges, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer Guild, the National Immigration Law Center, and the National Association of Federal Defenders. All filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of his position.

Hajec said that highlights a concerted effort by “open borders” advocates to chip away at immigration law rather than simply defend an individual immigrant fighting deportation.

“This is yet another example of how they just seem to be trying to achieve strange objectives,” he said. “This is not in the national interest at all.”

Republished with permission from LifeZette via iCopyright license.

  • Naval Lint

    If it’s OK for them to come here illegally, how can anyone be against them coming into your home illegally? How are these two things at all different?

  • Walter Flatt

    PUBLIC LAW 414, PAGE 2, SECTION 212, BANS ALL MUSLIMS FROM THIS COUNTRY AND WE HAVE LAWS THAT BAN ALL ILLEGALS, SO WHY SHOULD THIS GO TO THE SUPREME COURT FOR 9 PEOPLE TO DECIDE FOR 360 MILLION.

    GOOGLE THE 6 THINGS BELOW, YOU MIGHT LEARN SOMETHING.

    MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD TERROR GROUPS IN THE USA. WHY ARE THEY ALLOWED?

    PUBLIC LAW 414, PAGE 2, SECTION 212, PASSED IN 1952, NEEDS ENFORCING NOW.

    THE NEW CLINTON CHRONICLES 2015, IS THIS WHY THEY WANT OPER BORDER?

    FEMA CAMPS IN THE USA, WHY SO MANY? ARE THEY LOADED WITH MUSLIMS?

    THOMAS JEFFERSON, SEE WHY HE FORMED THE MARINES.

    BLACK JACK PERSHING, SEE HOW HE STOPPE A MUSLIM UPRISING.

    WE ARE IN WORLD WAR 3 TODAY, NOT BY OUR CHOICE BUT THEIRS.

  • Thomas Birch

    I think burglary is still a crime, and this man broke the law. He swore an oath to uphold our
    Constitution, and he broke his oath. So we get to take back the privilege of Citizenship/legality that
    we gave him. Not a difficult decision.

  • The war has been waged

    a fine upstanding young man but a thief.

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  • NanaSez

    Need I question which four imbeciles of the supremes couldn’t figure out the correct answer, duh?Please Judge Gorsuch, help them out here Sir!

  • Billdokie

    Not only a charge in 2007 but 2009 as well. Why do are we such a stupid society, especially in California!

  • jcrawdad

    Supreme Court Weighs if Burglary Should Trigger Deportation

    IF IT WERE A HOME OF A POLITICAL REP. THERE WOULD BE NO DISCUSSION ,. SAID PERSON WOULD BE GONE BEFORE ANYTHING WAS EVER SAID ABOUT IT .

  • Richard.

    How did this go forward..a real bunch of snow fakes in America..Break in my house and you get to stay Come on..Next the courts will hear FOR them to Steal my car and go live happy here in America..and there defense WE gave them a license to drive it and should not be deported ..Get ride of them all .Enough has been enough of them and what ever else they pull next.