(CN) – In deportation cases, the Board of Immigration Appeals may consider arrests and convictions that occurred more than seven years before an immigrant filed his petition to stay in the United States, the 2nd Circuit ruled. “Prior criminal acts are not excluded because of their vintage,” the court explained.
“Rather, the ‘nature, recency, and seriousness’ of the prior convictions is considered as part of the overall balancing test, as is ‘proof of genuine rehabilitation if a criminal record exists,'” the Manhattan-based court wrote, quoting a 1998 board decision.
The three-judge panel refused to review the board’s refusal to halt the deportation of Jose Argueta, an El Salvador native who was arrested four times in the United States for drunk driving.
He acknowledged that he was subject to deportation but applied for a “special exception” under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act.
He pointed out that he has lived in the United States since 1989, worked, paid income taxes and has not been arrested since 1996.
Argueta argued that he has established “good moral character” for the past seven years, and that immigration authorities can’t consider convictions and criminal acts that happened earlier.
The 2nd Circuit disagreed, saying the seven-year requirement establishes mere eligibility for the special exception and has no bearing on an immigration judge’s “discretionary power to grant or deny relief.”
“There is no statutory or regulatory provision that temporally restricts the discretionary factors that the agency may consider in deciding whether to grant or deny cancellation of removal,” the panel concluded.