The U.S. Supreme Court is to rule on whether unlawful sex with a minor is grounds to void a green card and deport a Mexican immigrant.
The nation’s highest court will review a ruling by the Sixth Circuit court. The court reaffirmed a Board of Appeals decision to deport the immigrant after he was convicted in California of having unlawful sexual intercourse with an underage girl.
The Sixth Circuit Court concluded the terms “sexual intercourse” and “sexual abuse” are synonymous in removal proceedings.
The sex with a minor case concerns Juan Esquivel-Quintana, a lawful U.S. permanent resident. He was convicted of violating a California law that makes it an offense to have sexual relations with someone under 18-years-old if the age difference between the two parties is more than three years.
Esquivel-Quintana has consensual sex with a 16-year-old who was his girlfriend when he was 20 and 21. The federal government wanted his removal from the country, claiming the conviction was “sexual abuse of a minor” – an aggravated felony.
If you are a green card holder in the United States, you can be deported for a range of offenses. Aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude are on the list.
The Supreme Court is to decide if a conviction under statutes in seven states that make consensual sexual intercourse between a 21-year-old and someone aged almost 18 a criminal offense, constitutes an “aggravated felony” under immigration law.
The list of aggravated felonies had grown steadily over the last few decades. However, it’s questionable if someone who commits a crime under a California law that is not a crime in many other states should face compulsory removal.
Juan Esquivel-Quintana pointed out the circuit courts appear to be divided over whether state laws that criminalize sex between 21-year-olds and people under 18 constitute sexual abuse of a minor.
While the Second and Third Circuits have ruled having sex with a person under 18 to be “sexual abuse of a minor” which is consistent with the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, the Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits have issued different opinions.
Esquivel-Quintana became a lawful permanent resident after arriving in the United States with his family when he was 12. He was charged with violating the California Penal Code in 2009.
If you are a permanent resident who is facing deportation over a crime, it’s essential to get legal advice from a dedicated Texas immigration lawyer as soon as possible. Call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.