Perhaps the most contentious issue immigrants face is deportation, but it actually takes some doing to be physically removed from this country. One way to get deported is by not playing by the rules or rule of law rather, and we’ll take a closer look at what this means. Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is also looking at language of law in the Immigration and Nationality Act that calls for the deportation of any legal immigrants convicted of “crime of violence,” because it’s allegedly so vague it violates the rights of immigrants to due process under the law and the U.S. Constitution.

immigrant deportation graphic
immigrant deportation graphic

What Crimes Can Get You Deported in the United States?

This is a rather gray area, because the government and ICE will look at past offenses, when considering the fate of immigrants here legally or illegally. Here are some examples of offenses that get individuals placed in deportation proceedings:

  • One immigrant pulled over for a routine traffic stop in Arkansas was detained because it was found she had failed to pay another traffic ticket for failure to yield. Also, as a teen the woman had spent time in boot camp for writing bad checks. Now, at 31, the undocumented, single mother of three children is facing deportation back to El Salvador.1
  • A 40-year-old Kenyan, who survived torture as a young activist and came to the U.S. on a now-expired student visa, faces deportation for a 2003 robbery conviction that occurred in San Diego. He spent nine years in jail for that crime. He is now the center of a SCOTUS case to determine whether immigrants have a right to a bond hearing.
  • In 2017, SCOTUS heard arguments in Sessions v. Dimaya to determine if the Immigration and Nationality Act’s definition of “aggravated felony” was constitutionally vague. The case involved a legal Filipino immigrant, who federal authorities deported after he was convicted for two California burglaries. Yet, there’s no evidence of any violence in the crimes.2
  • Immigrants are especially at risk if they have been convicted of a crime considered a “crime of moral turpitude,” which again is vague on the face of it. However, the Department of State have given the following guidance on what it considers moral turpitude, including “fraud, larceny, and intent to harm persons or things.”2
  • Convictions involving dishonesty and theft are also considered crimes of moral turpitude, such as assault with intent to rob or kill, domestic violence, aggravated driving under the influence (DUI), and vehicular homicide.

What Crimes Are Exempt from Deportation Consideration?

A charge in itself will not start any deportation proceedings, but a conviction most certainly will, if it is serious enough. The following are some examples of those crimes considered exempt from the moral turpitude guidance.

  • Those convicted of “petty offenses” are supposedly exempt from deportation.
  • Examples of petty offenses include: shoplifting, simple assault, a DUI not involving damage to property or persons, or no driver’s license.

Note: A ruling in the Sessions v. Dimaya case could help clarify what crimes committed by immigrants could get them expelled. As of press time, there has been no ruling in the case.

Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

Are you or someone in your family in danger of being removed from the country for a criminal conviction? If so, get an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles immigration lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C., who can vigorously appeal any deportation proceeding. For more than 15 years, our lawyers have successfully advocated for immigrants’ rights in various types of cases, including those that involve the most basic immigration applications to the most complicated federal proceedings.

We also assist with citizenship, immigration, and Visa services, so contact us 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. We’re located in beautiful Pasadena, but we also serve clients throughout the Los Angeles, throughout the state of California, as well as from around the world.


1“What Crimes Are Eligible for Deportation?” published in Stateline, Dec. 2016.

2“Supreme Court mulls parameters for deporting immigrant felons” published in Reuters, Oct. 2017.