California residents may have been following the story about a freshman college Indian-American student who was accused of spying on his college roommate. The reason why this story has been closely followed in the media is that the student filmed his gay male roommate kissing an older gentleman, and then streamed the encounter over the Internet. When the roommate discovered what had happened, he committed suicide.
The accused was born in India, but spent most of his life in the United States. However, he never completed requirements to obtain U.S. citizenship. As a result, deportation was one possible consequence of a conviction.
Though the college student was not charged with his roommate’s death, he was convicted of bias intimidation, among other crimes. He was recently sentenced to 30 days in prison, but the judge recommended that the student not be deported.
This is certainly good news for the student as deportation was one of the possible serious consequences he faced for his actions.
So why was deportation not recommended in his case? In order to qualify as someone who could face deportation, the accused would have had to commit a crime of moral turpitude in the five years following his admission to the U.S., unless multiple crimes were committed that were not a part of a single scheme.
The arguments surrounding a deportation claim could include the following:
- Committing a crime of moral turpitude — Does a hate crime conviction qualify as a crime of moral turpitude?
- Within five years of admission to the U.S. — Unless the student traveled outside of the U.S. during the past five years, he would not appear to qualify for deportation because he has been living in the U.S. for most of his life.
- Exception for multiple crimes — However, the student was convicted of spying on two different days, along with other criminal counts at different times, such as tampering with evidence. These separate convictions could negate the five-year rule allowing deportation regardless of how long he has been living in the country.
- Aggravated felony — Such crimes can include misdemeanors, possibly including an aggravated felony for hindering an investigation. Non-citizens who are convicted for aggravated felonies can be deported.
Obviously, these immigration law issues are complex, the answers to which are not completely clear. In this case, there may have been too many legal issues surrounding deportation that were insurmountable.
Source: foxnews.com, “Rutgers webcam spying case raises issues about deportation, experts say,” Robert Samuel, May 20, 2012