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Justices Take Deportation for Statutory Rape Fight

(CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will take up the case of a legal permanent resident who faces removal from the United States after being convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with his minor girlfriend in California.

Juan Esquivel-Quintana came to the United States as a permanent legal resident in 2000. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor - California's equivalent of statutory rape.

According to the charging papers, Esquivel-Quintana had consensual sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. He was 20 and 21 at the time.

Esquivel-Quintana pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years' probation. After serving his time, he left California for Michigan to be closer to his family - where federal authorities picked him up and initiated removal proceedings.

Prior to the 2009 case, Esquivel-Quintana had never been in trouble with the law, and what he was convicted of in California isn't a crime in Michigan. Nonetheless, the government said his conviction constituted the "aggravated felony" of "sexual abuse of a minor" and was grounds for removal under federal law.

A Board of Immigration Appeals panel ruled against Esquivel-Quintana, rejecting his argument that the federal standards can't be applied to the California statute for which he was convicted and that it should follow precedent set down by the Ninth Circuit.

He took his case to the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the board's order, and petitioned the high court to take the case. It agreed on Friday to do so without comment, per its custom.

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