Thursday, April 7, 2011

Matter of Vo: CIMT for Attempt Offenses

In Matter of Vo, 25 I&N Dec. 426 (BIA 2011), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held that where the substantive offense underlying a foreign national's conviction for an attempt offense is a crime involving moral turpitude, the foreign national is considered to have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude for purposes of section 237(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The respondent is a native and citizen of Vietnam who was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident in 1989. He was convicted in California of grand theft and receipt of stolen property. He was also convicted, at a later date, of attempted grand theft. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated removal proceedings against the respondent, charging that he was deportable under INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(ii) as an alien convicted of two or more CIMTs that did not arise out of a single scheme of misconduct.

The Immigration Judge found that because section 237(a)(2)(A) does not expressly reference “attempts,” as does section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), the respondent’s crime did not qualify as a deportable offense, so he terminated the proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security appealed. The BIA reasoned that, with respect to moral turpitude, there is no distinction between the commission of a substantive crime and the attempt to commit it. Noting that Congress added the “attempt” language to various sections of the Act at different times, the Board determined that it could not reasonably conclude that the inclusion of attempts in those other sections represented a unified design to effectuate a single intent or that Congress’ express inclusion of attempt offenses in some sections indicated its intentional exclusion of them from other sections.

Since grand theft is a CIMT, the respondent's attempted grand theft was also a CIMT, rendering him deportable based on his convictions. Therefore, the BIA concluded, the respondent is deportable as charged for a crime involving moral turpitude within the meaning of the statute.