San Diego permanent residents may be interested in a current case involving a Laotian immigrant. The man is facing deportation and removal proceedings after making an innocent error: telling the truth. The Laotian immigrant is already a legal and permanent resident of the United States. He came from Laos in the 1970s but did not realize the tough stance the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has on drug convictions. Now, he is facing the possibility of deportation and removal proceedings, regardless of his permanent status within the U.S.
The man was arrested at his place of work by ICE agents on March 26. Even though he passed his citizenship tests, paid required fees and completed all the paperwork to become a citizen, he made one grievous mistake. When the man was 27 years old, he was arrested for drug crimes in another city. He was later convicted of possession of amphetamines with intent to deliver.
The man was sentenced to two years’ probation. However, the man has always maintained that the drugs were not his, instead belonging to his roommate. Also, he claims that he was not provided an interpreter during some of the legal proceedings, which may raise an important issue concerning the fairness of his trial.
The convictions held up, and for the next 15 years the man never had another brush with the law. The conviction only came to light when the man’s longtime partner wanted to get married. Although the man had a green card already and could buy property, go to college and enlist in the military, he decided to pursue citizenship for her so they could legally marry.
He truthfully revealed his conviction on his citizenship paperwork, and now the man is detained, facing deportation and removal proceedings. Efforts are being made for the man on several fronts, though it remains to be seen what will happen, particularly given ICE’s tough stance on drug crimes.
Unfortunately, this story shows that doing the right thing does not always benefit a person. Furthermore, it shows just how important it is to understand your rights and options as you begin a quest for citizenship in the U.S. Seeking professional legal help may be beneficial for those in San Diego who wish to begin the citizenship application.
Source: Des Moines Register, “Reader’s Watchdog: Past catches up to Laotian immigrant, family,” Lee Rood, April 21, 2012