Across the United States, more than 200,000 immigrants were deported after being charged with criminal activity. This year, the husband of “Real Housewives” star Teresa Guidice may join their ranks. Giuseppe “Joe” Guidice and his wife have been accused of mortgage, tax, and bankruptcy fraud, charges which immigration attorneys in New Jersey say that may forced Guidice to leave the country.
According to a statement the reality TV show stars gave to a federal judge in Newark last month, Guidice is a citizen of Italy, not the United States. Guidice came to America from Italy with his family when he was only one year old, far too young to worry about the legality of such a move, or his immigration status. Having lived in America almost since birth, Guidice’s presence in the country had never been questioned prior to the criminal investigation.
The majority of deportations in the U.S. last year were as a result of criminal convictions, immigration attorneys in New Jersey say. According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 225,390 immigrants were forced to leave in 2012—a figure much higher than the number of fleeing fugitives and immigrants illegally seeking entry at America’s borders.
But immigrants who are accused of criminal activity are not always deported. Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi lived with the fear of deportation throughout his trial last year, in the death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after Ravi used a hidden webcam to spy on a sexual encounter between Clementi and another man. Ravi, who is originally from India, moved with his family to New Jersey at the age of 5. The criminal charges he faced made his deportation possible, even though he was legally living and studying in New Jersey.
In Ravi’s case, the trial judge sentenced him to 30 days in a county jail. After Ravi had served his sentence, federal authorities did not start the deportation process, because his crimes did not warrant such a severe penalty. But criminal and immigration attorneys in New Jersey say that the fraud charges Guidice is facing could bring a more serious reaction from federal agencies.
According to Farrin Anello, an assistant professor at the Immigrant’s Rights/International Human Rights Clinic of Seton Hall Law School, any criminal action that “qualifies for an aggravated felony…has the most serious immigration consequences of all, and make it very hard, if not impossible, to get any relief from deportation.” Right now, the Guidices have been accused of almost $1 million in tax fraud alone. In New Jersey, fraud, deceit, or tax evasion in the amount of $10,000 or more qualifies as an aggravated felony.
Other aggravated felony crimes that could result in an immigrant’s deportation include sexual abuse and assault crimes to a minor, illegal trafficking, child pornography crimes, forgery, and immigration violations following removal from the country. According to INA 238(b), visa holders and other individuals who are not permanent residents of the U.S. may be deported without a hearing, if they have been charged with these and a host of other aggravated felonies.
At New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, P.A., our immigration and criminal attorneys work closely together in cases where an immigrant may face deportation for his or her crimes. If you have been convicted or charged with a crime, and fear that you may be forced to leave the country, contact an immigration attorney at HCK today.