On January 17, 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled that an alien convicted for aiding and abetting a theft offense can be deported under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In Gonzales v. Duenas-Alvarez, Luis Alexander Duenas-Alvarez, a permanent US resident, pleaded guilty to the unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle in violation of California law and the Department of Homeland Security took steps to remove him from the country under the INA. The immigration judge hearing the case and the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed Duenas-Alvarez's appeal, but the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit disagreed based on a prior holding that violating §10851(a) of the California Vehicle Code is not a theft offense under the INA. The Supreme Court vacated the decision and concluded that the Ninth Circuit "erred" in "holding that 'aiding and abetting' a theft is not itself a crime that falls within the generic definition of theft."
Learn more about the INA and the laws governing deportation from the JURIST news archives.