Illegal and legal aliens who suffer conviction for certain deportable offenses face removal from the United States. Nevada state crimes that subject a noncitizen to deportation typically include (1) aggravated felonies, (2) firearms offenses, (3) drug crimes, (4) domestic violence offenses, and (5) crimes involving moral turpitude.
Under the Trump administration, law enforcement is more aggressive about arresting non-citizens even if the deportable offenses they committed were relatively minor.
Below our Las Vegas “criminal defense of immigrants” attorneys discuss the various categories of crimes that can cause an alien in Nevada to be deported from the United States. Click on a topic to go to that section:
- 1. When are non-citizens “deportable” in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. Which crimes trigger deportation?
- 3. Can aliens be “deportable” when entering the U.S.?
- 4. How will Donald Trump’s deportation plan affect non-citizens with Nevada convictions?
For information on avoiding deportation, go to our articles on stopping deportation in Nevada and cancellation of removal in Nevada. For aliens who have already been convicted of a deportable offense, go to our article on post-conviction relief in Nevada for immigrants.
Non-citizens may be deported (kicked out) of the U.S. when they violate immigration laws. The circumstances under which they can be deported depends on whether they are in America lawfully or not.
Legal aliens (non-citizens with lawful immigration status) can be deported when they get convicted of a “deportable crime.”1
Note that the term “legal alien” includes all foreigners who are officially permitted to live in the U.S. Legal aliens include legal permanent residents (also called LPRs or green card holders),2 refugees,3 asylees,4 and visa-holders.
Also note that a deportable offense conviction not only makes the non-citizen subject to removal…but also he/she will also face criminal penalties associated with the offense as any U.S. citizen would. Typical penalties include fines, imprisonment and/or restitution.
Illegal aliens (also called “undocumented aliens”) can be removed from the U.S. just for being on U.S. soil, even if they are otherwise law-abiding. In practice, many undocumented aliens fly “under the radar” and never come to the attention of immigration authorities unless they get arrested.
Legal aliens in Nevada may face deportation if their convictions were for aggravated felonies, drug crimes, firearm crimes, domestic violence crimes, or crimes of moral turpitude:
Legal aliens convicted of aggravated felonies may be deported.5 Aggravated felonies comprise several different kinds of Nevada crimes such as:
- lewdness with a child under 16 years old
- various theft crimes
- various fraud crimes
Aggravated felonies are usually “intent crimes,” meaning that the prosecution has to prove that the alien committed the crime deliberately in order to be guilty of it.6 Therefore, a non-intent crime such as DUI is usually not considered an aggravated felony in Nevada; this is because a driver does not have to mean to drive drunk to be convicted of DUI.
Legal aliens who have been convicted of a controlled substance crime in Nevada face deportation proceedings. Note that merely admitting to being a drug addict or a drug dealer can subject a person to removal even if he/she was never convicted.7
The only drug crime that will not make a legal alien vulnerable to deportation is “possession of marijuana for personal use” as long as the marijuana weighed no more than thirty (30) grams.8
Firearms include any type of gun, from pistols to revolvers to rifles.9 A conviction of any firearm offense in Nevada renders legal aliens deportable.10 Therefore, an alien is deportable if he/she is convicted of buying, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing, or carrying a concealed gun without a permit, or of attempting or conspiring to do any of these acts.
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 the following:
- battery domestic violence,
- child abuse,
- child neglect, or
- child abandonment
An alien may also be found to be deportable in Nevada for violating a protection order, which is any injunction meant to prevent violent or threatening acts.11
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 also may qualify as an aggravated felony as well as a crime of moral turpitude, all of which trigger deportation proceedings.
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
- voluntary manslaughter (but not involuntary manslaughter)
- rape and sexual abuse
- solicitation of prostitution
- some cases of assault and battery, especially with intent to rob, with a deadly weapon, or on an officer
- some instances of burglary
- carrying a concealed weapon with intent to use
- casino marker crimes, especially if the amount owed is $10,000 or more
Legal aliens with a CIMT conviction are deportable. However, if the alien was convicted of only one CIMT, he/she may be safe from deportation unless:
- the CIMT is a felony, AND
- the CIMT was allegedly committed within five years of him/her being admitted into the U.S. (or 10 years in some rare circumstances).
An alien is also deemed deportable if at any time after his/her admission, he/she is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude.12
Some other, rarer crimes that legal aliens in Nevada may be removed for include the following:
- high-speed flight from an immigration checkpoint13
- failing to register as a sex offender14
- fraud of immigration documents
- changing addresses without notice
- falsely claiming U.S. citizenship
Security Related Crimes
Furthermore, there are security-related crimes that will lead to an alien’s deportation.15 These include:
- various crimes concerning espionage, sabotage, treason, and sedition in accordance with goods, technology, or sensitive information.(or conspiring to commit these offenses)16
- criminal activity which leads to a potential risk of public safety or national security
- criminal activity regarding the opposition of, threat to control or overthrow the U.S. Government by means of force or other illegal methods
- terrorist activity
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.
Yes, there are individuals that are deemed deportable upon entry into the U.S. These individuals are usually held in custody at the border and promptly removed from the U.S.
Non-citizens who are deportable when trying to enter the U.S. typically fall into one of the following categories:
- Inadmissible aliens: Any alien who at the time of U.S. entry is considered legally inadmissible (such as by having committed drug trafficking or intending to traffic prostitutes);
- In present violation of law: Any alien who is currently in violation of any U.S. law, or whose non-immigrant visa has been revoked;
- In violation of non-immigrant status or condition of entry: Any alien who legally entered as a non-immigrant t has failed to properly maintain that non-immigrant status; and any alien that has failed to comply with terms and conditions that were imposed upon him/her;
- Smugglers: 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 whom the Attorney General determined had 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.17
In early 2017, President Donald Trump issued executive orders that outlined a new, more stringent stance on deporting non-citizens from the United States.18
President Trump is unable to change criminal immigration law by himself. Only Congress may alter the list of deportable Nevada crimes, for example. But through executive orders, President Trump may alter the manner in which ICE officers enforce existing criminal immigration law against aliens with Nevada criminal convictions.
The Trump administration has instituted the following changes to the enforcement of criminal immigration law:
- Priority is given to deporting immigrants with a criminal record (both legal immigrants with convictions for deportable crimes, as well as illegal immigrants with convictions or charges for any crime).
- Local law enforcement agencies are to help federal immigration authorities identify and detain deportable aliens.
ICE has always had prosecutorial discretion over whether to commence removal proceedings against a non-citizen convicted of a deportable offense.19 Under former President Obama, ICE prioritized the deportation of aliens who picked up relatively serious criminal convictions. (For Nevada non-citizens, this might include convictions for gang crimes, aggravated felonies, multiple misdemeanor offenses, etc.)
But under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is prioritizing the deportation of any immigrant who is deportable due to criminal activity…20
For legal immigrants in Nevada, this means those with deportable convictions--even for relatively minor drug crimes. And for undocumented (illegal) immigrants, this means for any criminal conviction on their record. Indeed, DHS said it will target undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted but have merely been charged with a crime. (Recall that illegal aliens may be deported even if they never committed a crime--merely being undocumented can subject an alien to removal.)
Former President Obama had discontinued the “Secure Communities” program. This required local police agencies to provide ICE with the fingerprints of all arrestees. ICE would check these fingerprints against its databases and, if an arrestee was flagged as potentially deportable, ICE would ask the police to detain him/her for up to 48 hours while it investigated his/her immigration status.21 (Non-citizens who get arrested in Clark County may be incarcerated at Las Vegas immigration jail.)
President Trump revived Secure Communities. Consequently, ICE now has an easier time identifying Nevada immigrants who may be subject to deportation.22
You should not have to face immigration 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. Contact our Nevada immigration defense lawyers for a consultation today.
To learn about deportable crimes in California, go to our informational article on deportable crimes in California.
- Deportable Alien, USCIS; 8 U.S. Code § 1227 -- Deportable aliens.
- Go to the Bureau of Consular Affairs to read more about visas.
- Go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to read more about the application procedure for refugee status.
- Go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to read more about the application procedure for asylee status.
- U.S.C. 1227 (a)(2)(A)(iii). Note that the U.S. Supreme Court in Sessions v. Dimaya, No. 15–1498 (2018) invalidated the law that required mandatory deportation for “crimes of violence.”
- Go to 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43) to read a complete list of crimes considered to be “aggravated felonies.”
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B).
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B).
- For the legal definition of “firearm,” go to 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3).
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C).
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(E).
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A).
- 18 U.S.C. 758.
- 18 U.S.C. 2250.
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B).
- Deportation, USCIS; 8 U.S. Code § 1227 -- Deportable aliens.
- What is inadmissibility? USCIS.
- 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.
- Department of Homeland Security, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, Feb. 20, 2017.
- See ICE Website, Information on Secure Communities Program.
- Las Vegas no ‘sanctuary city,’ Metro says, but policy says otherwise, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 17, 2015.