IRLI Files BIA Brief Affirming Removability of Criminal Aliens Under Federal Animal Fighting Statute

Press Releases

March 6, 2017

Assisting Government Administrative Tribunals Properly Interpret the Law

March 06, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief (attached here) on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to address whether a conviction under a federal law prohibiting sponsoring or exhibiting an animal fighting venture constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), thus subjecting the alien to removal from the United States. In addition, the BIA asked FAIR to discuss whether a CIMT finding requires a “protected class of victim” determination and if animals can be a “protected class of victim.”

In its brief, FAIR advised the BIA that a conviction for sponsoring or exhibiting an animal fighting venture fulfills both CIMT requirements: reprehensible conduct and a requisite mental state. First, animal fighting is a “base, depraved, and vile” crime that forces two animals to fight to the death purely for entertainment. Second, the relevant federal law requires that the individual knowingly sponsor or exhibit an animal fighting venture. The BIA has previously found that the mental state of “knowingly” is sufficient for a CIMT finding.

FAIR also advised that a “protected class of victim” analysis is not required for a conviction under this law to constitute a CIMT. While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has occasionally incorporated a “protected class of victim” analysis into its non-fraudulent CIMT cases, FAIR advised that the BIA had previously dismissed the “protected class of victim” requirement and those decisions are entitled to deference. Even so, the Ninth Circuit has not uniformly applied the “protected class of victim” element which makes it near impossible to know when its analysis is required.

Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s Executive Director commented, “Animal fighting ventures serve no purpose and carry no value other than to provide entertainment at the expense of an animal’s life.” Wilcox continued, “Certainly this disgusting crime deserves to be classified as a crime involving moral turpitude, thereby subjecting the perpetrator to removal from the United States.”

For additional information, contact: Dale L. Wilcox • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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