I’m a green card holder and didn’t serve jail time, so why am I being put into removal proceedings?

Related Ads

Question:

I had a misunderstanding with my babysitter that led to me being charged with child neglect. I pled guilty because I could not afford to miss work for a trial. But I just received a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court. Can they really do this to me? No jury ever convicted me! And, I thought having a green card meant I was a “permanent” resident.

Answer:

You’re actually asking two questions here: First, whether permanent residents can be deported; and second, whether a guilty plea counts as a conviction when deciding whether a crime will make an immigrant deportable.

As to the first question, permanent residents can, indeed, be deported (removed) from the U.S. based on any of on a number of grounds, as described in Nolo’s article, “Grounds of Deportability: When Legal U.S. Residents Can Be Removed.” Commission of a crime is one of the most common bases for deportation, but there are others you should be aware of as well, such as failing to report your change of address to the immigration authorities.

Regarding the second question, pleading guilty means that you were convicted of a crime, according to U.S. immigration law. And child neglect happens to be one of the crimes that is specifically listed within the immigration laws as making a person deportable. For more on this, see “Immigration Risks of Pleading Guilty or No Contest.”

It sounds like you need to consult with two different attorneys: First, a criminal attorney, to see whether there is any way to undo the conviction for child neglect; and also an immigration attorney, to defend you in Immigration Court.

Whatever you do, do not fail to show up for your immigration court dates. That will result in an immediate and automatic order of deportation being entered against you. Your hearing is your opportunity to argue about whether any mistakes were made by the immigration enforcement authorities and whether you have a basis to argue that you should keep your permanent residence.

LA-NOLO3:LDR.1.5.0.20140409.25642