Do You Believe in Miracles..?
Well if you don’t we would suggest that you read the following decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
The Supreme Court is making it easier for the government to deport or otherwise remove people who are not U.S. citizens if they are convicted of seemingly minor state crimes.
The justices ruled 5-3 Thursday that a man who spent 23 years living in New York as a lawful permanent resident can be barred from re-entering the country because of a 1999 conviction for attempted arson.
George Luna Torres had served one day in prison and five years of probation after pleading guilty in state court, but otherwise had a clean record since his parents brought him into the country from the Dominican Republic in 1983. Well just look at the numbers: Mr. Torres was in the United States for 16 years when the crime was committed; he took the plea for 1 day in prison and 5 years of probation, then for unknown reasons and length of time Torres elected to leave the nation.
But the government argued that the state law conviction was equivalent to an aggravated felony for purposes of immigration law.
Under immigration law, a lawful permanent resident can be deported or denied re-entry to the United States after being convicted of an aggravated felony. Those offenses include certain federal crimes as well as state offenses that share the same elements.
Luna argued that the federal crime of arson is different from the state version because it must involve interstate commerce.
Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said that is simply a technical difference needed to give Congress authority over arson crimes and not a meaningful distinction. She said Luna’s argument would also exclude more serious state crimes, such as kidnapping, from affecting immigration status simply because a kidnapper failed to cross state lines. And we agree with Justice Kagan.
“The national, local or foreign character of a crime has no bearing on whether it is grave enough to warrant an alien’s automatic removal,” Kagan said.
In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the majority was ignoring a strict textual reading of the federal law, which includes interstate commerce as part of the crime. We also believe that Justice Sotomayor is trying to make this action somehow accountable by arguing the semantics of the law. We again feel that she is missing the larger point of the original 1790 law that deliberately mentions “the character” of the alien.
“An element is an element, and I would not so lightly strip a federal statute of one,” Sotomayor said. Is she missing the mark here? We definitely believe that she is. This action in our minds has little or nothing to due with the difference between a federal and/or state law. It has very much to do with the offense and current removal status by the administration.
This article appeared originally in the Seattle Times; however, owned by the Associated Press. This writer of course put his own feelings, current law, and colleague’s thoughts into it. Thank you.