Legal Memorandum: Crime of Moral Turpitude and Immigration Laws

Issue: Does a conviction of violating Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-21, placing a child at risk of injury, constitute a ‘crime of moral turpitude,’ as defined by federal immigration laws?

Area of Law: Immigration & Naturalization Law
Keywords: Crime of moral turpitude; Federal immigration laws; Placing a child at risk of injury
Jurisdiction: Connecticut, Federal, New York
Cited Cases: 63 F.2d 757; 98 F.3d 183; 794 A.2d 1071; 52 F.3d 238; 206 F.3d 253; 32 F. Supp. 797
Cited Statutes: 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i); 22 C.F.R. § 40.22; Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-21(a)(1);
Date: 03/01/2004

An alien who commits a crime of moral turpitude commits a deportable offense under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i), which provides:

Any alien who – 


(i)  is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status under section 1255(j) of this title) after the date of admission, and  

(ii) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable.

8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) (2003).

The definition of “moral turpitude” is not provided in § 1227, nor elsewhere in the Immigration and Naturalization Act.  However, other sources provide the court some guidance in considering moral turpitude.  Crimes of moral turpitude, for purposes of eligibility for admission, include “the commission of acts which constitute the essential elements of a crime . . . under the criminal law of the jurisdiction where they occurred.”  22 C.F.R. § 40.22 (2003).  These acts, however, must be based “upon the moral standards generally prevailing in the United States.”  Id.  Additionally, courts have long held that a conviction involves moral turpitude only if it is an “act of baseness, vileness and depravity in the private and social duties which man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.”  U.S. v. Reimer, 32 F. Supp. 797, 798 (S.D.N.Y. 1940).  […]

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