SCOTUS Deportation Ruling Affects Kentuckians

February, 20, 2013, Louisville, KY- A recent decision from the Supreme Court could affect deportation cases of thousands of immigrants in Kentucky and nationwide who are facing criminal charges.

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The case brought before the Supreme Court was filed by a Chicago woman on behalf of thousands of immigrants facing possible deportation. Rosevela Chaidez wanted the court to retroactively apply a 2010 ruling which required attorneys representing immigrants charged with an aggravated felony to inform their clients that pleading guilty would be grounds for their deportation.

Chaidez became a lawful permanent resident in 1977 has three children and two grandchildren, all of whom are citizens, the Los Angeles Times Reported. In 2003, Chaidez was charged with mail fraud after being involved in an insurance scam where she received $1,200 for a traffic accident staged by her son. The government described her role as minor and she agreed to plead guilty.

Chaidez was convicted, sentenced to probation and required to pay $22,000 in restitution, the total for the insurance scam. By 2004 she paid all of her restitution and served her probation, but when she applied for naturalization she failed to reveal that she was a convicted felon. She then learned that mail fraud involving $10,000 or more was deportable offense, the LA Times said.

In 2009, Chaidez filed to have her conviction overturned on the grounds that she was not made aware by her lawyer that pleading guilty to a crime could lead to deportation. For her defense she could have argued that the total she received, $1,200, didn’t meet the legal threshold of an aggravated felony.

A Chicago district court overturned her conviction because her new attorney argued that a previous high court ruling in Padilla vs. Kentucky maintained that an attorney had the constitutional duty to inform clients when they faced deportation for pleading guilty to a crime. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Chiadez has the right to take advantage of the 2010 ruling.

Last Wednesday the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and said the ruling could not be applied retroactively. According to Kentucky.com, Justice Eleana Kagan stated the 2010 decision was a new rule so it does not apply to convictions that came before.

The Supreme Court decision highlights a fact that many immigrants can jeopardize their chances of becoming a naturalized citizen if they have a criminal record or commit a crime prior to, or while in the process.

If you are an undocumented immigrant or a permanent resident facing deportation or a criminal charge it’s important to have an attorney that is well-informed of the current immigration laws. Having a knowledgeable immigration attorney can prevent a conviction from jeopardizing your chances of becoming a legally-recognized U.S. citizen

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