What are the immigration consequences of a DUI?
Immigration law does not specify driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) as grounds for deportation or removal from the United States. In recent months, however, these offenses have been grounds for deportation.
Why is a DUI/DWI Guilty Conviction Now Such a Problem?
In November 2014, the Homeland Security Secretary issued new guidance for all of DHS, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), concerning the agency’s “enforcement priorities.”
It is very important to note that among those considered as the second-highest priority for apprehension and removal are noncitizens convicted of DUI.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
ICE is now actively searching for, arresting, detaining, and prosecuting removal of non-citizens with convictions for DUI and DWI. The following groups of non-citizens with a DUI or DWI conviction are all being adversely affected:
- Non-citizens without immigration status in the United States are being arrested and detained without bond (or with a very high bond, sometimes in excess of $25,000.00). In immigration court, requests to lower the bond amount are frequently denied if the DUI conviction is recent and/or there are no significant mitigating factors. Requests for voluntary departure are likewise frequently denied. Noncitizens without any other recourse for relief in removal proceedings are being deported without first being released from ICE detention.
- Non-citizens with outstanding final orders of removal are being arrested and detained without bond, and oftentimes removed from the United States within weeks of their arrests.
- Lawful permanent residents with old criminal convictions are being subjected to removal
proceedings, because their conviction for DUI or DWI makes them a target for ICE investigative officers. Non-citizens who would otherwise qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) do not qualify if they have a conviction for DUI or DWI.
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