An offense that involves domestic violence has serious consequences for immigrants, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony.  Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ issued a decision in U.S. vs. Gracia-Cantu, No. 15-40227 (5th Cir. 2019) that a Texas conviction for Assault-Family Violence (Texas Penal Code §§ 22.01(a)(1) and (b)(2)),  for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year, is a crime of violence. The court found that even unintentional force can be considered a crime of violence.  The decision is retroactive, meaning that it applies to those convicted before and after the decision. 

What does this mean for immigrants with domestic violence convictions?

Under immigration law, any “crime of violence” where a sentence of one year or more is imposed is considered an aggravated felony resulting in deportation.  “Aggravated felony” is a term used to describe a category of offenses carrying the harshest immigration consequences. Noncitizens who have been convicted of an aggravated felony will not qualify for relief such as bond, asylum, cancellation of removal, or voluntary departure, and are barred from returning to the United States at any time in the future.

If you have a conviction or arrest for Assault-Family Violence, it is critical that you consult with an immigration attorney before filing any immigration paperwork.  The attorneys at Garza & Associates have over 25 years’ experience handling complex immigration and deportation matters involving criminal convictions.  Contact us at (713) 664-6200 for a consultation with an experienced attorney.