Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, New Jersey Public Radio
Nancy Solomon is the Managing Editor of New Jersey Public Radio.
Now that Dharun Ravi has been convicted of 15 charges related to his use of a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, he may also face possible deportation proceedings.
Ravi, 20, is a legal resident who was born in India and spent most of his life in New Jersey.
Anyone convicted of a crime that is defined as involving “moral turpitude” or an aggravated felony can face a deportation proceeding. It’s up to federal immigration officials to bring the case, and an immigration judge to make the final determination.
Michael Wildes, a New Jersey immigration attorney, said federal immigration officials have discretion on whether to proceed with a deportation case against Ravi. The former federal prosecutor thinks it is likely that Ravi will face deportation proceedings.
“There's a lot of pressure on immigration because of the media and the attention of the world on this matter and I believe strongly that they will bring it,” Wildes said.
However, the determination of whether the convictions involve moral turpitude or are aggravated felonies is a complicated one, according to David Isaacson, an immigration attorney with Cyrus D. Mehta and Associates. It would take him several hours of research, if not days, to determine how the Ravi convictions fit into the federal statutes, according to Isaacson.
The federal law on whether a crime is defined as an aggravated felony involves 20 sub-sections. The case law on defining moral turpitude goes back to 1913, Isaacson said. It's a vague legal term used to describe conduct that is considered contrary to justice, honesty or morality.
Ravi was convicted by a New Brunswick jury Friday of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, hindering a prosecution and witness tampering. Ravi’s lawyers said they will appeal the verdict.
A federal decision on whether to move forward on deportation will likely be made after Ravi is sentenced in May, since sentencing is one of the factors that determines whether or not to deport.
The government does not publish statistics on how many people it attempts to deport after a felony conviction, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University institute that tracks federal enforcement agencies. The institute conducted a study of 156,713 people facing deportation because they were convicted of aggravated felonies and found that deportation rates changed depending on the number of years an immigrant lived here, which country they were from and their legal status. It also found aggravated felonies usually involved violent or drug-related crimes.