But a recent court decision suggests that lawful permanent residents may be at greater risk of deportation than they realize.
In 1989, Andre Barton was a teenager when his mother brought him to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. In 1996, he was about to benefit from the seven-years-rule, which allows non-citizens to cancel deportation orders if they have had a green card for at least five years and lived continuously in the U.S. for seven years. After this time requirement is met, they can effectively avoid deportation—even if they commit serious crimes.
However, just months before Barton would have gained this protection, the “stop-time rule” took effect because he was convicted of assault and possession of a firearm in Georgia. The stop-time rule stops the clock on the seven-year count if a permanent resident commits a serious crime before they have reached the seven-year mark.
In 2007, he committed drug-related offenses, which eventually triggered a removal proceeding more than a decade later. He attempted to cancel the removal order, citing the seven-years-rule, but the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out that he was a few months short of obtaining this benefit when he was convicted in 1996. On April 23rd, the Supreme Court officially affirmed Barton’s ineligibility for cancellation of removal.
In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that Barton had:
- Entered the U.S. lawfully;
- Notably rehabilitated;
- Kept a clean record for more than 10 years;
- Graduated from college;
- Opened his own automobile repair shop; and
- Had four young children.
None of this, however, was enough to protect him from deportation.
Unfortunately, this sets a precedent for future cases. Thousands of lawful immigrants who have been convicted of minor offenses may be subject to removal.
Bring Your Concerns to Our Legal Team
Entering and remaining in the U.S. is arguably more difficult today than it has ever been. But at Gambacorta Law, we know your family members may be counting on you to provide for them in the United States. If you’ve built a life here, you deserve to live free from the threat of deportation, and we can provide the support and legal guidance you need. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience, and we can fight for your right to live safely with your loved ones in the U.S.