Joe Giudice, from the Real Housewives of New Jersey, was ordered removed to Italy this week. The reaction from fellow #RHONJ cast members was disbelief and and disgust. Caroline Manzo remarked that Joe "Is not a threat to society". Others chimed in with similar thoughts.
Why? Why did a guy who has lived virtually his entire life in the U.S., who has four children and a U.S. citizen wife get deported? It's not like he killed anyone right?
Immigration law has many categories of people and acts that can make someone deportable (which is different than inadmissible, but that's another story).
Certain criminal convictions can be waived using a 212(h) waiver. But the 212(h) isn't available to aggravated felons in most cases.
What's an aggravated felony? Sounds terrible! And some of these crimes are terrible. But many are not so bad. They certainly don't warrant this awful designation. Shoplifting with a sentence of more than one year (even if the sentence is suspended) will suffice.
Joe Giudice was convicted of a fraud offense where the amount of money in question was more than $10,000. Thus he was considered an aggravated felon. That's all it takes!
Being an aggravated felon under INA means you are DISQUALIFIED from almost EVERY form of immigration relief. It doesn't matter that he's never visited his country of birth, that he had US citizen children, or a wife. There is no leniency. There is no discretion.
If ICE pushed the issue, which it did, the Immigration Judge can't consider any of Joe's reasons to stay in America. It doesn't make a difference. He must be deported.
Even worse, once he is out, he faces a lifetime ban. So Theresa cannot reapply for Joe to come back from Italy - ever.
Immigration is zero sum. You either qualify, or you don't. There are no plea bargains.
How can these results be avoided? Anyone who is not a citizen and is facing criminal charges, no matter how minor, needs to consult with a good immigration attorney. Prosecutors will sometimes change a plea, or alter a sentence to minimize the impact on a defendant's immigration status.
If a bad result can't be avoided, an immigration attorney needs to be ready to challenge the law. The 212(h) waiver has been expanded by diligent and resourceful attorneys who have pushed the issue to appellate courts, and sometimes the Supreme Court.