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Immigrants Take Tax Story to the High Court

(CN) - The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review a decision that allows the United States to remove a Japanese couple residing in the United States after they were convicted on corporate tax fraud charges.

In 1997, 13 years after Akio Kawashima and Fusako Kawashima entered the United States as lawful permanent residents, they pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of more than $245,100 through a false tax return.

An immigration judge ruled that the convictions were aggravated felonies that made the Kawashimas removable. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed that decision and ordered the couple removed to Japan.

The 9th Circuit considered the Kawashimas' cases separately, as they pleaded guilty to different charges with the wife admitting to aiding and assisting. Ultimately, and after some rehearings, the court ruled that husband was removable, and it remanded the wife's petition so that the immigration court could determine what net loss her crime cost the government.

The Kawashimas say the court's holding contradicts that of other circuits.

"If Mr. and Mrs. Kawashima were residents of Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware, the plea agreements to which they stipulated would have concluded the proceeding with finality and resulted in no further punishment, having paid their debt for any wrongdoing," their brief to the Supreme Court states. "Instead, they face in addition the irreversible sanction of exile because of an ambiguous statute which has divided Circuit Judges of the United States Courts of Appeals."

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