Board of Immigration Appeals Doubles Down On Misprison of Felony as a Crime Involving Moral Turpitud

Press Releases

February 28, 2018

Ensuring the safety and security of our communities

WASHINGTON – The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has released a decision in the case Matter of Mendez. In its opinion, the BIA agreed with the friend-of-the-court brief that the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) had filed in the case, as well as its own prior precedent, in holding that misprision of felony is a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).

Tomas Mendez, an alien, was admitted to the United States in 2004. After being admitted, he was convicted of misprision of felony. Misprison of felony requires a person to have knowledge of the commission of a felony and actively conceal that felony from the authorities. The BIA correctly found that misprision of felony is a crime involving moral turpitude because it involves “reprehensible conduct” and requires a “culpable mental state.”

Misprison of felony violates the basic societal duties we have to one another, and is therefore reprehensible conduct. It meets the mental state requirement for a CIMT because it is a willful act in which an alien takes affirmative steps to conceal a crime from authorities.

Misprison of a felony is not just turning a blind eye. It is covering up dangerous criminal activity. In a community, members trust that the safety of all is placed above any other personal considerations. When wrongdoing is perpetrated, society assumes that we will work together to ensure the community is safe and justice has been done. Concealing the commission of a felony puts the community at risk and weakens trust in and respect for our neighbors.

“Each person has a societal duty to report when a crime is committed. When a person doesn’t report criminal activity, society as a whole becomes the victim,” commented Dale Wilcox, IRLI’s executive director and general counsel. “The BIA recognized that if aliens wish join our community, they too have the duty to protect all people from criminal activity by reporting it to law enforcement officers as quickly as possible.”

The case is Matter of Mendez, 27 I&N Dec. 219 (BIA 2018).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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