In recent months, many "Green Card" holders, with criminal convictions, have met with immigration problems at airports and other U.S. entry points.
Since the consolidation of the national database of criminal records with those of the Department of Homeland Security, immigration officials now have access to criminal records, that they were not able to access previously. Many lawful permanent residents whom have, perhaps, made several trips abroad since their criminal case was concluded, are now encountering problems re-entering the U.S. after foreign travel. "Green Card" holders with criminal cases concluded perhaps 10 or even 20 years earlier are now the unsuspecting targets of immigration officials, who have the authority to detain or deport them.
An all too familiar scenario is that of the individual who, not only had been a permanent resident for over 20 years, but was married to a U. S. citizen. After being convicted for the intent to sell narcotics and 10 years after serving out his sentence, the individual was stopped by an immigration official and questioned about the crime. Although he had in the past, made several trips to his home country without encountering a problem, the immigration office decided to keep his Passport and "Green Card."
Several months later, the individual receives an appointment notice from immigration to retrieve his documentation. Instead he was taken into custody, spending several months in a Federal detention facility before being deported. The individual now needs emergency legal help, which may have been avoided if advance, legal assistance was sought.
This terrifying situation is becoming an increasingly common event.
A prior history of safe, unrestricted travel no longer guarantees safe travel in the future.
It is important to remember that all cases are different and that different crimes will have different immigration consequences. If you have a criminal history and you are not a United States citizen, please consult with a qualified immigration attorney to review your case.