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Aggravated felony charges tear immigrant families apart

If your family immigrated to the United States, you likely had strong reasons for leaving your home country. Perhaps you were facing hardships, you came here to marry or join other family members in Mississippi, or you simply needed a fresh start and new chances. You certainly hoped your children would benefit from the sacrifices you made to bring them to this country.

However, if police recently arrested one of your family members, and now he or she is facing charges termed as aggravated felonies, you have every right to be concerned. Conviction for an aggravated felony can have devastating consequences for immigrants, and your loved one is at great risk of deportation.

What is an aggravated felony?

"Aggravated felony" is a category of crimes agreed upon by the U.S. Congress. An aggravated felony charge may result in immediate deportation of a non-citizen upon conviction. While the list of crimes included in this category began in 1988 with drug and weapons trafficking, murder, and other violent crimes, now aggravated felonies include dozens of offenses, such as:

  • Filing a fraudulent tax return
  • Theft
  • Fighting
  • Failing to appear in court

In fact, many crimes that are misdemeanors for American citizens are aggravated felonies for immigrants. Furthermore, Congress may add to the list as it sees fit, and if your loved one has a conviction for a crime that Congress later adds to the list, he or she may still face deportation.

Consequences of conviction for an aggravated felony

If the court convicts your family member of the offense in question, your options are few. Within two weeks, immigration authorities may remove your family member from the country without further hearing or chance for appeal. He or she will not be eligible to seek asylum in the U.S. or to file for cancellation relief. From the time authorities remove your family member, they will permanently bar him or her from reentry into the country unless the Department of Homeland Security grants a waiver, which is a rare occurrence requiring special circumstances.

You can see how critical it is for your loved one to avoid a serious conviction. A conviction for an aggravated felony may separate you from your loved one indefinitely -- and completely change the dynamic of your family. To avoid this life-altering consequence, you may find comfort in the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney who is dedicated to representing immigrants facing criminal charges.

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