As U.S. federal immigration law continues to include more offenses that fall into the category of “aggravated felony,” it becomes crucial for you as a noncitizen in Florida to avoid breaking any law. According to the American Immigration Council, the list of crimes that qualify as aggravated felonies for immigrants is much more extensive than that which applies to U.S. citizens.
Moreover, many of these offenses, such as theft or falsifying IRS documents, are merely nonviolent misdemeanors for any non-immigrant. Yet, convictions for these charges may carry enhanced penalties that could make it nearly impossible for you to stay in the country.
If you are not a lawful permanent resident of the United States and commit an aggravated felony, there is a chance that an immigration judge will deport you within weeks, even if you face persecution after you return to your native country. Furthermore, if you attempt to reenter the country without rare exceptional circumstances, you could face a prison term 10 times longer than the standard two years.
Removal of Recourse
Federal immigration law does allow recourse for some lawful residents who face deportation. For example, waivers of inadmissibility may permit immigrants to stay in the U.S. due to hardship circumstances. Additionally, noncitizens may elect to leave the country voluntarily before immigration officials can officially deport them. Unfortunately, a conviction for an aggravated felony disqualifies you from these options.
Ineligible for Asylum
If you have fled your country and are in the United States seeking asylum, it is vital that you steer clear of legal trouble at all costs. Any otherwise minor offense that counts as an aggravated felony under immigration law could deem you ineligible for asylum. Also, you could lose your ability to receive relief from deportation by “withholding of removal” due to imminent danger upon returning to your home country.