Getting pulled over and arrested for a DUI is deeply unpleasant and requires your absolute attention no matter what your situation is. But for those who are in the United States on a visa, as a permanent resident, or without any legal immigration status (“undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants), a DUI can and should cause one to take further consideration of whether a conviction could result in eventual deportation.
Whether or not you are ultimately deported depends on many factors, much of which are up to the discretion and current policy of federal immigration authorities. A DUI will by no means always result in deportation, but anyone in California as a non-citizen should make serious efforts to protect themselves, as deportation is a possibility, especially when combined with other crimes and/or where the DUI defendant is currently undocumented. Even if you are not deported, a DUI conviction can prevent a person from getting legal status and/or citizenship in the future.
DUI and Documented Non-Citizen Immigrants
People in the US with a “green card” qualifying them for permanent residence status should understand that “permanent” is not necessarily permanent if they are convicted of certain types of crimes which the federal government deems worthy of revoking green card status and deporting the individual.
The good news is that a DUI is not necessarily one of the crimes that generally leads to deportation for green card holders, but violent crimes and crimes involving drugs could result in deportation (thus a marijuana DUI could be such grounds). Furthemore, a DUI combined with other crimes could trigger deportation.
Also, a DUI conviction on your record could make it difficult to get naturalization to become a US citizen, and a green card holder should keep this in mind in deciding to fight the DUI charges.
For those here on visas, even being arrested could lead to a revocation of your visa privileges, which does not necessarily mean you will be deported, but could make it impossible to leave the country and later return. Taking swift action to fight the DUI charges may be helpful to avoid this ultimate problem.
DUI and Undocumented Immigrants
Those who are in the US as undocumented immigrants, by definition, always face the threat of deportation. But being arrested for a DUI can make things worse by putting you on the radar of federal immigration authorities such as ICE who can then begin deportation proceedings. As with much of the law surrounding deportation these days, things are murky to say the least, and whether you are targeted for deportation/removal can depend on a lot of discretionary factors out of your control and which may be entirely invisible and unpredictable to you.
At any rate, working with a criminal defense and immigration attorney can help your chances in both avoiding the consequences of a criminal conviction and in fighting any potential negative effects on your ability to remain in the country.
Note also that having a criminal conviction will affect your ability to apply for DACA (the “Dreamer” program that allows certain undocumented immigrants to live and work in the US), and to later renew your DACA status.
Contact the Los Angeles Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorneys at Gastelum Law
At the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC, our attorneys have experience in both immigration – including deportation/removal defense proceedings – as well as in criminal defense of DUI arrests. We look forward to helping you work through both the immigration and criminal defense issues you face after a DUI, to protect your freedom and your future. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC today to discuss your DUI and/or immigration matter.