Foreign-born permanent residents who are living in South Carolina may be targeted for removal from the United States if they are convicted of certain types of crimes. While most misdemeanors will not result in deportation proceedings, aggravated felony convictions will. Crimes that involve 'moral turpitude" could also make a permanent resident eligible for deportation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is especially interested in deporting individuals who are convicted of drug-related crimes. Although a conviction for a drug offense may only be considered a misdemeanor in criminal court, the conviction could be deemed an aggravated felony in the eyes of immigration authorities.
Moral turpitude crimes are offenses like arson, assault with intent to cause serious bodily harm, murder, rape and burglary. Other moral turpitude crimes include blackmail, counterfeiting, prostitution and receiving stolen goods. If a permanent resident is convicted of one moral turpitude crime within five years of obtaining permanent resident status, he or she could be deported. Any permanent resident convicted of two moral turpitude crimes arising from two separate incidents is also eligible for deportation. Minor crimes like simple assault, disorderly conduct and regulation violations are not considered moral turpitude crimes and are not cause for removal proceedings.
A permanent resident who is facing any type of criminal charges should have representation from an attorney. The stakes can be very high for a person who has not yet obtained citizenship, so an attorney may work to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanors or drug-related charges dismissed. If removal proceedings have already begun, an attorney may be able to represent a permanent resident through providing a defense against the deportation order.