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Aggravated Felony Can Mean Deportation for Legal Immigrants

Author: deportation attorney Alena Shautsova

While immigration law often seems unfair, it is important to work with an immigration lawyer and also take advantages of protections under the law. A case in point involved a Japanese couple who immigrated to California in 1984. They opened a sushi restaurant and their business had expanded to two successful restaurants in Thousand Oaks and Tarzana, CA. Recently, they opened a third restaurant in Encino. After several immigration and tax cases, and finally an appeal to the Supreme Court, they learned that the final 2012 ruling would result in their deportation.

The Supreme Court had the final say

According to an article in the L.A. Times , Akio and Fukado Kawashima had under-reported their business income in 1991 and received $245,000 in taxes and penalties. The couple pled guilty to the tax charges and quickly paid the full $245,000. While their case with the IRS was behind them, 10 years later the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which is now called the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), declared the tax crime an aggravated felony. This classification allowed the INS to order their deportation. The INS operated off a law that Congress passed in 1994 which defined fraud or deceit involving more than $200,000 an aggravated felony. Further amendments now make $10,000 adequate to qualify as an aggravated felony.

The couple had adjusted their status to permanent residents. However, unlike U.S. citizens, permanent residents are subject to deportation for aggravated felony conviction.

If you are a legal immigrant, seeking U.S. citizenship as soon as possible can be a preventative measure against a tragedy such as this couple's deportation. A skilled New York immigration lawyer can help you avoid deportation issues and find the best path to citizenship.

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