Deportation Can’t Be Avoided for Honda Thief

     (CN) – A Peruvian man who has lived in the United States for more than 20 years must be deported for stealing a Honda Accord, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.
     A lawful permanent resident, Luis Alexander Duenas-Alvarez came to the United States from his native Peru in 1990. He was convicted for stealing a Honda Accord in 2002, and spent three years in a California prison. Later, an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals found him removable as a felon.
     A three-judge appellate panel of the 9th Circuit denied Duenas-Alvarez’s petition for review of that removal order on Tuesday, finding that his theft conviction qualified as a removable offense under federal immigration law.
     The Pasadena-based appeals court once thought otherwise. In 2006, the 9th Circuit granted Duenas-Alvarez’s petition for review because the California Vehicle Code went beyond the “generic theft offense” by including aiding and abetting.
     Duenas-Alvarez’s case returned to the circuit after a 2007 Supreme Court reversal based on the justices’ finding that the code was “divisible in that it imposes criminal liability in the alternative on principals as well as on accessories after the fact.”
     Reconsidering the case with that ruling in mind, the 9th Circuit applied the “modified categorical approach” and found that Duenas-Alvarez had clearly been convicted as the main perpetrator and not as an accessory.
     The unanimous appellate panel also rejected Duenas-Alvarez’s argument that he had been convicted merely of “joy-riding” and thus was not eligible for removal.
     “Like the BIA, we have defined a ‘theft offense’ to include taking property without consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, even if the deprivation is less than total or permanent,” Judge Susan Graber wrote for the panel.

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