How Good Are You?: Judging Moral Character in Removal Proceedings

Yes, the government is in the business of judging morality — at least when it comes to removal and deportation.  To get cancellation of removal for a non-LPR (lawful permanent resident), the alien must be a “person of good moral character.”

Fortunately, the Immigration and Nationality Act attempts to constrain judges’ discretion to evaluate moral character.  Section 101(f) defines “persons of good moral character” by listing people who fall outside the group.  These include:

  • habitual drunkards
  • people who make most of their money from illegal gambling
  • people who have served sentences for 180+ days in the aggregate
  • those convicted of aggravated felonies
  • participants in genocide and Nazi persecution

In future posts, I’ll discuss specific problems of interpretation relating to the statutory definition of “persons of good moral character.”  If you find yourself or a loved one in removal or deportation proceedings, talk to an immigration attorney about whether cancellation of removal is an option.

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