What many of us don’t realize is that because of laws passed in 1996 under Clinton (1996 immigration law reforms), legal immigrants to the U.S. (permanent residents) can be put into removal proceedings due to being charged with certain categories of crimes that are considered “crimes of moral turpitude,” and, this category keeps expanding. Most “aggravated felonies” fall under this category, but now any drug or alcohol-related charge does too, shoplifting, check or ID fraud, certain traffic violations… Plus, they are targeted for deportation after completing their sentences and this can be applied retroactively, and whether or not they were “guilty” or spent time in jail or not. For example, under these laws, a legal resident who was convicted for marijuana possession decades ago, regardless of whether he/she is rehabilitated, never served jail time but only probation, has a family with US citizen children, owns a home and business, etc, can be targeted for deportation. In fact, the most common crimes that legal permanent residents are targeted for deportation for are traffic violations, DUI, assault, and minor drug possession. This has been happening before Trump, but now especially under Trump (https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/11/why-are-immigrants-being-deported-for-minor-crimes/281622/).
Many legal residents are not aware of the immigration consequences when they plea bargain or plead guilty to things they are arrested for, such as a DUI, so that they can stay out of jail. But then later, they can be arrested by immigration for their past charges, as in Roberto’s case. Essentially, immigration law punishes people a second time for crimes already paid for, while citizens are allowed a “second chance” or to clean their slates by having crimes expunged from their records. We would argue that all immigrants should be afforded basic Constitutional rights that protect against this kind of “double jeopardy.”