U.S. Law Center

What are deportable crimes?

Whether you are a legal immigrant or you do not currently have the documentation you need for residency in the United States, if you are living in California, you may wonder what crimes may result in deportation. According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, felonies, smuggling foreign nationals into the country, aggravated assault, terrorist activities and drug abuse are all on the list of deportable crimes. While these are specifically defined and easy to identify, there are also crimes involving moral turpitude, which is a legal term that may be more difficult to understand.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy manual defines crimes involving moral turpitude, or CIMT, as intentional behaviors that society considers immoral and fundamentally abhorrent. This is still vague, and it is interpreted based on previous legal decisions. It may help you to know that CIMT are divided into four basic categories, which are crimes against the government’s authority, against property, against a person, and crimes involving sex or the family. These could include the following:

  •          Fraud
  •          Bribery
  •          Theft or robbery
  •          Domestic violence
  •          Rape

You may also be able to identify a CIMT by whether the act is done with criminal intent, which typically includes the use of a weapon or violence. Sexual contact with a child is always considered moral turpitude and is a deportable crime.

If you have committed one CIMT during your statutory period, you will be unable to show that you have good moral character, which is one of the qualifications for naturalization. This information about deportable crimes is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

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