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SCOTUS 'Crime of Violence' Ruling Opens Door for Deportation Review

View of the US Supreme Court Building on a bright Christmas Day
By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Kwei Genego came to America to live free, but found himself in prison.

He was convicted of third-degree burglary, but that was not his only problem. An immigration judge ordered he be deported for committing a crime of violence. In Genego v. Barr , the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said that is not the law anymore. Now Genego, a lawful permanent resident, gets to stay home.

Grew Up Lawfully

Genego, a native of Ghana, came to the United States when he was 11-years-old. His mother is a naturalized citizen, his father is a permanent resident, and he lives  with them in Connecticut. He grew up as a lawful resident, but ten years after he immigrated he committed a crime. He plead guilty to third degree burglary in 2011. Removal proceedings followed. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 16(b), the Bureau of Immigration Affairs determined he had committed a "crime of violence," which was a deportable offense. He appealed.

Genego filed a petition for review, asking the Second Circuit to terminate the removal proceedings. The appeals court stayed his appeal, pending a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in another case.

'Crime of Violence'

In Sessions v. Dimaya , the Supreme Court said the statutory definition of a "crime of violence" was not specific enough. The justices held it was unconstitutionally vague and that 18 U.S.C. Section 16(b) was void. Following that decision, the Second Circuit issued its opinion in Genego's case. The panel said the Supreme Court holding was "pellucidly clear." In other words, the judges agreed.

"The Supreme Court found that Section 16(b) contained both an ordinary case requirement and an ill-defined risk threshold, which invited arbitrary enforcement and failed to provide fair notice," Judge Rosemary Pooler wrote for the unanimous panel. The appeals court vacated the removal order and terminated the removal proceedings.

It was third loss for the government in immigration cases before the Second Circuit in as many weeks.

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