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When an Experienced Immigration Attorney Matters!


Deportation & Removal Defense

The Illegal Immigrant and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 states that a foreign national who committed either an “aggravated felony” or a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) is a removable alien.  INA Section 101(a)(43)(f) of the Act states specifically which crimes that are considered “aggravated felonies.”  The list is expansive and includes drug crimes, other than possession of marijuana for personal use that is less than 30 grams, violent crimes in which the term of imprisonment is one year or more, theft crimes in which the amount in which the sentencing is 1 year or more, fraud crimes involving $10,000 or more, sex crimes, child pornography, racketeering and organized crimes, just to name a few.  Whatever that is not delineated Under INA Section (a)(43)(f) would be covered under CIMT.  IIRIRA does not state specific crimes that are crimes involving moral turpitude.  The courts, over the years, have determined that the following are criminal conviction could be construed as CIMTs.

  1. Sexual and Domestic Violence Crimes – Assault with intent to commit carnal abuse, rape, public indecency, adultery, prostitution, bigamy, sodomy, aiding or assisting a minor to commit delinquency, such as purchasing alcohol and/or sexual acts, incest or indecency with a minor.

  2. Crimes Against The Government - Bribery, counterfeiting and security fraud, falsely issuing government documents or narcotic prescriptions, attempt to violate IRS or immigration laws, smuggling, impersonating a peace officer;  harboring a fugitive or accessory to a crime after the fact; mail fraud and wire fraud, perjury, falsifying immigration documents, failing to report income, accepting or offering kickbacks on government contracts, representing false Social Security number; and making false Statements to obtain unemployment benefits.

  3. Crimes Against Persons – Murder, intentional homicide, voluntary manslaughter, homicide by reckless conduct such as drunk-driving that involves the death of a victim, attempted murder; kidnapping; mayhem; assault with a deadly weapon, use of deathly force against a peace officer with deadly force; obstruct justice, aggravated assault against a peace officer, carrying an illegal concealed weapon with intent to use against another.

  4. Crimes Against Property -

    Arson; blackmail and extortion; forgery, theft by check, forged prescription, making false statements on financial applications,  robbery, embezzlement, grand theft auto, petty theft, receiving or transporting stolen property, attempted fraud in which the maximum sentence is more than 1 year or the sentencing is more than 6 months, mortgage frauds, concealing assets in a bankruptcy proceeding, wire fraud and mail fraud, securities fraud, bribery, making false statement in applying for a fire arm or other government documents.


In addition to an aggravated felony and CIMT, a person may also be removed from the U.S. if he or she “over stayed” his or her non-immigrant status by remaining in the U.S. exceeding the time limited stated in their I-94 for 180 days or more.  The person may also be removed if he or she has been determined to have violated his visa status, such as working without authorization.  Obviously, a person that entered the country without inspection (EWI) or those that present false documents may also be removed from the U.S.

The experienced Houston Deportation Defense Attorneys and the Houston Immigration Litigation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham have assisted clients that have committed aggravated felony, CIMT, or violated their visa status, and those that entered the U.S. undocumented.  In many of these cases, there may be a waiver that could be applicable, such as hardship waivers and extreme hardship waivers, asylum (see below) application, United Nation Convention Against Torture, and withholding of removal.  If so, our Houston Deportation Attorneys will raise these issues and file the appropriate applications with the Court in your defense.  


Cancellation of Removal

In addition to waivers and direct challenges to the government’s position, depending on the facts, the person may also qualify for “cancellation of removal” even if the person committed the crimes as shown the charging document.   There are two types of cancellation applications; cancellation or removal for permanent residents and cancellation of removal for undocumented aliens.

Under INA § 240A(a), the Attorney General (the immigration court) may cancel the removal of an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien (1) “has been an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence for not less than five years, (2) has resided in the United States for 7 years after having been admitted in any status, and (3) has not been convicted of an aggravated felony.”  Thus, if the permanent resident committed a crime involving moral turpitude, but has not committed an aggravated felony, and has been residing in the U.S. for at least 7 continuous years, 5 of which as a permanent resident, then he or she may be qualified under cancellation of removal.

Under INA § 240A(b), the Attorney General (the immigration judge and the BIA in their discretions) may cancel the removal of an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien (1) has been in the U.S. for a continuous period of ten years or more immediately preceding the date of filing the cancellation of removal application; (2) has good moral character; (3) has not been convicted of an aggravated felony, and (4) establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship (INA Section 212(i) Extremely Unusual Hardship Waiver) to the person’s spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident. 

After a personal consultation and research, if the Houston Cancellation of Removal Attorneys and our Houston Removal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham determines that you or your loved ones may be qualified for cancellation of removal; our attorneys will prepare the application and file it with the court at your court appearance. It is important that our attorneys know all the facts related to the conviction and any other criminal violations or actions that could affect your application. In addition, you will need to cooperate fully with our Houston Deportation Attorneys in providing information and maintain good communication.  In many instances, if you or your relatives have maintained continuous residency is the key factor in determining whether or not cancellation of removal is available.  Please call the North Houston Deportation Defense Attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham and the Houston Extreme Hardship Waiver Lawyers by calling713-517-6645 for person consultation.


Immigration Law is a vast area of law and every situation is unique. You should NOT rely on the limited information on this general site in replacing a personal consultation with an experienced Houston Immigration Lawyer. There may be legal issues, depending on the facts and circumstances, in which you may not be aware. Please feel free to give us a call at 713-517-6645, or to contact us online, for more information. Call the Houston Immigration Attorneys and the Spring Houston Naturalization Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham today at 713-517-6645 or complete our Contact Form.