January 24, 2019
“Good moral character is incompatible with being a public menace”
WASHINGTON – IRLI has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case that Acting Attorney General Whitaker has referred to himself for review from the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Acting Attorney General sought briefing on the proper legal standard to determine “good moral character,” and the impact that multiple convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) should have in those determinations, which are often crucial in decisions about whether aliens are permitted to remain in the country.
In its brief, IRLI notes that an alien has the burden of establishing eligibility for cancellation of removal and of establishing “good moral character.” That term obviously focuses on an alien’s conduct, as courts have noted. IRLI argues that multiple convictions for DWI or DUI, combined with other negative factors (such as the person’s unlawful presence in the United States), should prevent an alien from establishing the “good moral character” necessary to receive a cancellation of removal from the United States.
IRLI acknowledges that the Attorney General has the discretion to cancel the removal of aliens under certain circumstances. The exercise of that discretion, however, often involves balancing many enumerated factors elucidating the totality of the circumstances. IRLI argues that multiple convictions for DWI or DUI, combined with a negative immigration history, should be an extremely negative factor, weighing heavily against awarding discretionary relief to an alien.
“Driving while drunk costs the lives of innocent people,” said Ralph L. Casale, senior counsel of IRLI, who drafted the brief. “Years of campaigns by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others have greatly raised awareness of the problem in this country. In other countries, though – especially ones from which many illegal aliens come – drunk driving is still commonplace. When an illegal alien kills someone driving drunk, that is a preventable tragedy, especially if the alien has prior drunk driving convictions and his removal was nevertheless cancelled.”
“All we can do is punish and otherwise attempt to influence our own drunk drivers,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “We’re stuck with them. But we shouldn’t have to put up with the illegal presence of drunk drivers from other countries. Good moral character is incompatible with being a public menace. We hope the Attorney General recognizes this, and saves American lives by putting illegal alien drunk drivers back on the road out of the United States.”
The case is Matter of Castillo-Perez, 27 I&N Dec. 495 (Attorney General).
For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]
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