Non-citizens (including "legal aliens" with lawful immigration status) may be deported and removed from the United States if they get convicted of certain classes of crimes (often referred to as "deportable offenses"). The most common Nevada state crimes that serve as grounds for deportation are "aggravated felonies," firearms offenses, drug crimes, domestic violence crimes, and "crimes involving moral turpitude."
In this article our Las Vegas Nevada immigration attorneys will discuss these topics in more depth, including:
- When are non-citizens considered "deportable" in Las Vegas, NV?
- Which Nevada state crimes will trigger deportation?
- Can aliens be "deportable" upon entry into the U.S.?
- How will Donald Trump's deportation plan affect non-citizens with Nevada convictions?
There are many reasons that will cause an alien to be deportable. These reasons include both civil and criminal offenses. At times, it will be within the prosecutor's discretion to determine whether to commence removal proceedings after a deportable offense has occurred.
Note that the determination of whether a conviction is a deportable offense requires an in-depth analysis of state and federal law. Non-citizens facing criminal charges should seek assistance from an attorney prior to assuming they have or have not committed an offense with immigration consequences.1
Legal aliens who get convicted of certain crimes in Nevada...called "deportable offenses"...may be deported (removed) from the U.S. These offenses may not only make the alien deportable, but he/she may also face criminal charges associated with the offense. (Note that non-citizens arrested in Clark County may be jailed at Las Vegas immigration jail.)
Deportable Crimes in Nevada
The term "legal alien" includes all foreigners who are officially permitted to live on American soil. Legal aliens include legal permanent residents (LPRs or Green Card holders),2 refugees,3 asylees,4 and visa-holders.
Legal aliens may face deportation from the United States or other unpleasant immigration consequences if they have a criminal record. Fortunately, not all criminal convictions can get a legal alien deported-the less serious the crime, the less likely the immigration judge will order removal. As discussed below, however, legal aliens may face deportation if their convictions were for aggravated felonies, Nevada drug crimes, Nevada firearm crimes, Nevada domestic violence crimes, or crimes of moral turpitude.
Aggravated Felonies in Nevada are deportable
If you are a legal alien who gets convicted of an aggravated felony in Nevada, you may face deportation proceedings..5 Aggravated felonies comprise several different kinds of Nevada crimes such as:
- murder in Nevada
- rape in Nevada
- lewdness with a child under 14 in Nevada
- various theft crimes in Nevada
- various fraud crimes in Nevada.6
Aggravated felonies are usually "intent crimes," meaning that the prosecution has to prove that you committed the crime deliberately in order to be guilty of it. Therefore, non-intent crimes such as DUI in Nevada are usually not aggravated felonies because, in Nevada, you do not have to mean to drive drunk to be convicted of it.
Drug Crimes in Nevada are deportable offenses
If you are a legal alien who has been convicted of a controlled substance crime in Nevada, you may face deportation proceedings. And if you just admit to being a drug addict or a drug dealer, you may be removed as well even if you were never convicted..7
The only drug crime that will not make a legal alien vulnerable to deportation is possession of marijuana for personal use in Nevada as long as the marijuana weighed no more than thirty (30) grams..8
Firearm Crimes in Nevada are deportable offenses
Firearms include any type of gun, from pistols to revolvers to rifles..9 Any conviction for a firearm offense in Nevada, such as carrying a concealed firearm without a permit in Nevada, makes legal aliens deportable..10 Therefore,a n alien is deportable if he/she is convicted of buying, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing, or carrying, or of attempting or conspiring to do any of these acts.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Nevada are deportable offenses
Domestic violence is a broad category of crimes that involve physically violent or dangerous encounters between family members, co-parents, in-laws, dating partners, or roommates. Legal aliens in Nevada may face removal from America if they are convicted of such domestic violence-related offenses as battery domestic violence in Nevada, stalking in Nevada, and child abuse, neglect or endangerment in Nevada..11 Also, an alien is deportable for engaging in acts of trafficking.
An alien is found to be deportable in Nevada after having been convicted of crimes involving:
- domestic violence,
- child abuse,
- child neglect, or
- child abandonment
"Domestic violence” in Nevada refers to any crime of violence against a person perpetrated upon them by a current or former spouse of the person, by an individual with whom the person shares a child with, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the person as a spouse, or by any other individual covered under the law.
An alien may also be found to be deportable in Nevada for violating a protection order. "Protection order” is defined as any injunction issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts of violence.
Domestic violence crimes in Nevada are taken very seriously by immigration judges. Domestic violence is commonly referred to as a "triple whammy" crime because it sometimes qualifies as an aggravated felony as well as a crime of moral turpitude, all of which trigger deportation proceedings.
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs) in Nevada are deportable offenses
Perhaps the most confusing aspect of immigration law concerns crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), which are included in the category of "general crimes." Moral turpitude itself is difficult to define, but the concept refers to conduct that is considered to be contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals. In general, CIMTs are crimes which are particularly heinous and contrary to societal norms. A few examples of common CIMTs in Nevada are:
- murder and attempted murder in Nevada
- voluntary manslaughter in Nevada (but not involuntary manslaughter)
- kidnapping in Nevada
- rape and sexual abuse in Nevada
- solicitation of prostitution in Nevada
- some cases of assault and battery in Nevada, especially with intent to rob, with a deadly weapon, or on an officer
- some instances of burglary in Nevada
- carrying a concealed weapon with intent to use in Nevada
- Casino marker crime in Nevada, especially if the amount owed is $10,000 or more
If you are a legal alien, having a conviction for a CIMT in Nevada makes you deportable. However, if you have been convicted of only one CIMT, you may be safe from deportation unless
- the CIMT is a felony, AND
- the CIMT was allegedly committed within five years of you being admitted into the United States (or 10 years in some rare circumstances)..12
Note that immigration law is full of "gray areas" where it may be unclear as to what behavior qualifies as deportable. Aliens facing deportation should always consult immigration attorneys to help determine whether their past behaviors can be interpreted as legal.16
Yes, there are individuals that are deemed deportable upon entry into the U.S. These deportable individuals are classified as the following:
- Inadmissible aliens: Any alien who, at the time of entry or adjustment of status, was within at least one of the classes of aliens inadmissible by the existing law at the time;
- Present violation of law: Any alien who is currently in the U.S. in violation of any U.S. law, or whose nonimmigrant visa has been revoked;
- Violated nonimmigrant status or condition of entry: Any alien who legally entered as a nonimmigrant, but has failed to properly maintain that nonimmigrant status; and any alien that has failed to comply with terms and conditions that were imposed upon him/her;
- Smuggling: Any alien who knowingly encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided any other alien to enter or attempt to enter the U.S. against the law. This act by the alien could have occurred before the date of entry, at the time of his/her entry, or within five (5) years of his/her date of entry.
- Marriage Fraud: Any alien about whom the Attorney General determined entered into a marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining admission into the U.S. or any other type of immigration relief.
Note that the government agency ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) enforces U.S. federal laws that govern border control, trade, customs, and immigration. ICE in Nevada wields great prosecutorial discretion over which cases to prosecute.17
In early 2017, President Donald Trump issued several executive orders that set out a new, more aggressive stance toward deporting non-citizens from the United States.18
President Trump cannot change criminal immigration law on his own. Only Congress can change the list of deportable Nevada crimes, for example. But through executive orders like these, President Trump has the ability to change the way in which ICE officers enforce existing criminal immigration law against non-citizens with Nevada criminal convictions.
The Trump administration has made the following important changes to enforcement of criminal immigration law:
- Priority will be given to deporting any immigrant with a criminal record--both legal immigrants with convictions for deportable crimes, and illegal immigrants with convictions or charges for any crime.
- Local law enforcement agencies will be asked to do more to help federal immigration authorities identify and detain deportable immigrants.19
Under former President Obama, ICE had been prioritizing the removal of immigrants who had relatively serious criminal convictions. (For Nevada non-citizens, this might include convictions for gang crimes, aggravated felonies, multiple misdemeanor offenses, etc.)
But now the Department of Homeland Security will be making it a priority to deport any immigrant who is deportable because of criminal activity.20
For legal immigrants in Nevada, this means those with deportable convictions--even convictions for relatively minor controlled substances offenses. For undocumented (illegal) immigrants, this means those with any Nevada criminal conviction on their record. In fact, DHS has stated that it will also target undocumented immigrants who have merely been charged with--not convicted of--a crime.
Former President Obama had also discontinued a program known as "Secure Communities." This program required local law enforcement agencies to provide ICE with the fingerprints of all suspects they arrested for a crime. ICE would check these fingerprints against its databases and, if a suspect was flagged as potentially deportable, would then ask the local law enforcement agency to detain him/her for up to 48 hours while it investigated his/her immigration status.21
President Trump has revived the Secure Communities program. This means that ICE will have an easier time identifying Nevada immigrants who may be subject to removal from the country. (In the past, however, Clark County/Las Vegas has declined to comply with federal requests to detain suspected deportable immigrants under the Secure Communities program.22)
You should not have to face court by yourself . . . .
If you are a legal alien who has been arrested, charged or convicted of a removable crime in Nevada, we might be able to save your resident status. Call our Nevada immigration & criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation.
Please read our article on Inadmissible Crimes in Nevada (for Undocumented/illegal Aliens). If you have already been convicted of a deportable crime, please read our article on post-conviction relief in Nevada for immigrants.
To learn about deportable crimes in California, go to our page on deportable crimes in California.
1 Deportable Alien, USCIS; 8 U.S. Code § 1227 - Deportable aliens.
2 Go to the Bureau of Consular Affairs to read more about visas.
3 Go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to read more about the application procedure for refugee status.
4 Go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to read more about the application procedure for asylee status.
6 Go to 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43) to read a complete list of crimes considered to be "aggravated felonies."
9 For the legal definition of "firearm," go to 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)
16 Deportation, USCIS; 8 U.S. Code § 1227 - Deportable aliens.
17 What is inadmissibility? USCIS.
18 See presidential executive orders entitled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, Jan. 25, 2017.
19 Department of Homeland Security, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, Feb. 20, 2017.
21 See ICE Website, Information on Secure Communities Program.
22 Las Vegas no 'sanctuary city,' Metro says, but policy says otherwise, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 17, 2015.