Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

A Jamaican immigrant fighting deportation is suing the U.S. attorney general in the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the term “crime involving moral turpitude.” 

The case dates back to a 2018 deportation order for Everton Daye, who served time in prison following a 2013 conviction on two substantive counts of transporting one ounce or more of cocaine and five pounds of marijuana into Virginia with the intent to sell or distribute the substance, in violation of Virginia law. 

Daye had previously migrated to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa from Jamaica in 2008 and became a lawful permanent resident after marrying a U.S. citizen in 2009. 

U.S. immigration officials brought removal proceedings against Daye under the federal law that lists a “crime of moral turpitude” as grounds for deportation. The agency ordered Daye be sent back to Jamaica. Emphasizing its longstanding position that “evil intent is inherent in the illegal distribution of drugs,” the agency determined that Daye’s marijuana convictions were for crimes involving moral turpitude. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld Daye’s deportation order and concluded that it lacked any authority to overturn the agency’s decision as long as the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Jordan v. De George remains on the books.

That case involved an immigrant of Italy and one question: whether conspiracy to defraud the United States of taxes on distilled spirits is a “crime involving moral turpitude” within the meaning of the Immigration Act of 1917. 

Daye and his attorneys have now taken the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The question is which illegal acts, such as marijuana possession, are crimes involving moral turpitude. Individual judges decide which crimes involve moral turpitude. 

Whether the court should overturn Jordan v. De George and hold that the phrase “crime involving moral turpitude” is unconstitutionally vague as it is used in U.S. immigration law is left to be seen. 

On Nov. 15, the court granted a motion to extend the time to file a response; the time is extended to Dec. 16, 2022.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.

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