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What is a "Criminal Alien?"


The term “criminal alien” has entered the mainstream conversation, particularly in the immigration community, due to the Presidential campaign and subsequent election of Donald Trump. The President-Elect used the term frequently in his campaign, which made a crackdown and stricter enforcement of existing immigration laws one of its cornerstones. This has led to many questions regarding what the term “criminal alien” actually means, and who may be considered one during the inevitable overhaul about to take place in the coming years.

Who Are “Criminal Aliens?”

Essentially, a “criminal alien” is anyone not born in the United States who is subject to deportation due to a criminal action or history. The kicker to this definition is that the individual does not necessarily have to be an illegal alien to be criminal—those who are here legally can still find themselves facing deportation for a criminal offense.

It’s important to note that not all crimes make someone an automatic target for deportation. According to the Department of Homeland Security, any offense for which immigration status is not an essential element is not deportable, so those who are here illegally do not have to worry about being deported for something such as a traffic stop, nuisance, or immigration violation, which is a misdemeanor.

However, President-Elect Trump frequently used the phrase throughout his campaign to refer to violent criminals, and it’s hard to argue that his word-choice has implied the number of violent offenders to be much higher than statistics really say. This is particularly true when you consider the numerous references to Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican international who was repeatedly deported before murdering woman in San Francisco.

It remains to be seen if the definition of “criminal alien” will be expanded during the trump administration and to what extent if so. It will have to do so if Trump plans on reaching his stated goal of deporting between two and three million illegal aliens. In his eight years in the office, President Obama deported more people than any leader in history, totally roughly 2.5 million people.

If you or a loved one is facing an immigration issue, contact a Phoenix immigration attorney as soon as possible. At Kanu & Associates, P.C., we have nearly two decades of combined experience we can put to work in your corner utilizing a deep familiarity with the complexities of United States immigration law. If you are facing a removal hearing, you cannot afford to face your judge alone; contact a criminal defense attorney for immigrants in Phoenix now.

Call Kanu & Associates today at (602) 353-7795 to schedule a case review!