Vol. 2 No. 2, Summer 2011; Particularly Serious Crimes and Withholding of Removal: An Aggravating Question
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The highly controversial topic of the removal of non-citizens from the United States is even more complex than most people realize. Besides the widely-known issues of the stretch on our nation’s resources and immigrants’ search for better lives, there are also issues of international relationships and threats to basic human rights. The United States has an international commitment not to remove aliens back to their home country if that country would be likely to subject the person to threats to their life or freedom, including kidnapping, torture, or murder. The U.S. denies this withholding of removal to those who have been convicted of particularly serious crimes, which in some districts are limited to aggravated felonies, and in some districts include other, non-aggravated crimes. There are compelling reasons for expanding the definition of particularly serious crimes, including relieving burdens on the U.S. justice system; however, the United States has a duty to stand by its commitment and promote its own policy of human rights, and an analysis of the Immigration and Nationality Act supports a minimum requirement of an aggravated felony for categorization as a particularly serious crime.