On February 28, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a decision that effectively revoked the comparable grounds rule it had been using to determine whether immigrants convicted of crimes would be eligible for relief from deportation per Section 212(c). The BIA’s recent ruling falls in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling in Judulang v. Holder. This Court ruling held that the BIA’s use of the comparable grounds rule for determining eligibility for relief was “arbitrary and capricious” and that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
With the BIA’s revocation of the comparable grounds rule:
- The BIA has been pushed to set new standards for determining eligibility for inadmissibility/deportation relief for immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.
- Immigrants who have received final orders of removal may now be eligible for relief from deportation via Section 212 (c). In fact, some will likely now have grounds to get their cases reopened or reconsidered in order to seek relief.
- These immigrants are advised to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to learn more about their options, their rights and the best manner in which to proceed with their case.
Prior to the BIA’s recent revocation of the comparable grounds rule, the Board had been generally following the rule that Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c) could be used as relief from removal from the U.S. for law permanent residents (LPRs) who:
- Had been convicted of a crime that was not a weapons offense
- Had been continuously residing in the U.S. for at least 7 years since their admission
- Did not serve 5 years or more in prison for the conviction of the criminal offense.
Section 212(c) was repealed in 1996. However, in 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that LPRs who were convicted of crimes when Section 212(c) would have been available to them could still seek relief under this statute.
Despite the fact that the BIA had been using these standards for more than 30 years, it inexplicably changed its course of action in two cases – the Matter of Blake and the Matter of Brieva. In these cases, the BIA ruled that LPRs facing removal are not eligible for relief via Section 212(c) unless there is a “substantial equivalence” between the grounds for removal and the grounds for inadmissibility (thus establishing the “comparable grounds” standard).
BIA’s New Rules
The BIA’s revocation of the comparable grounds standard has spurred the Board to set a new, specific set of rules regarding how eligibility for relief from deportation is to be determined in cases when LPRs have criminal convictions. According to the BIA’s new rules:
- Section 212(c) can be used for LPRs who have criminal convictions that qualify under the general grounds for inadmissibility for crimes involving “moral turpitude.”
- LPRs who are specifically not eligible for relief per Section 212(c) including individuals who have been deemed inadmissible for security-related reasons (like, for instance, terrorist activities) and for their known involvement in international child abduction-related crimes.
- LPRs who are not eligible include those who have served 5 years or more in prison for a prior conviction of an aggravated felony offense.
The BIA’s new standards for determining relief from removal for LPRs with criminal convictions have opened up the scope of relief for certain LPRs. As a result, these individuals are encouraged to learn more about their options by consulting with the immigration attorneys at the Hanlon Law Group.
Los Angeles, California Immigration Lawyers at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
At the Hanlon Law Group, P.C., our Los Angeles immigration attorneys have more than 15 years of experience successfully representing clients in various types of immigration cases, including those that involve the most basic immigration applications to those associated with extremely complicated federal court litigation.
To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys today by calling (626) 765-4641 or (866) 489-7612 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.