Aggravated Felonies are Serious Crimes

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December 2, 2021

IRLI shows why aggravated felons should not be eligible for immigration benefits

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals, the nation’s immigration appellate court, on the legal question of whether all aliens who have been convicted of aggravated felonies, and thus are deportable, should be viewed as having committed a “particularly serious crime” under a federal statute, and thus be ineligible for certain immigration benefits, such as withholding of removal.

In showing that the answer is yes, IRLI stresses in its brief the constitutional imperative that immigration laws be interpreted in a uniform fashion. In one immigration statute, the asylum statute, it is provided that all aggravated felonies are particularly serious crimes. In no other immigration statute is “particularly serious crime” defined. Thus, under the Constitution, the term should be defined uniformly by courts to agree with the definition in the asylum statute.

“There is a need for uniformity, arising from the Constitution itself, in immigration law, and there is also a practical need for simplicity,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The test used by some courts for whether a crime is particularly serious is complicated and unclear at best. We hope the Board throws out this unnecessary test in light of the statutory definition and the Constitution, and lifts the burden of performing it from our immigration courts.”

The case is Amicus Invitation No. 21-09-11 (BIA).

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