The Absurdity of Crime-Based Deportation

Report Author: 
Kari E. Hong
Original Date of Publication: 
June, 2017

On what grounds should an immigrant be deported? In The Absurdity of Crime Based Deportation, Kari Hong argues that the current crime-based deportation policies, derived from the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA ) and the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), should be discontinued. Hong examines the circumstances under which ACCA and IIRIRA were implemented and the impact of judicial decisions related to these acts. She concludes that they are inherently arbitrary and sweeping in their impact, as they do not differentiate between major and minor crimes. AACA and IIRIRA then result in collateral consequences of harsher sentences and potential (or actual) deportation. Overall, Hong contends that ACCA and IIRIRA are overly broad in scope, inefficient and expensive. They fail to sort dangerous from non-dangerous immigrants, and impose penalties that are not fitting for the crime. If one enters a criminal database, whether as a rapist or a mother driving her children to school without a driver's license, the immigrant is treated the same way.  Crimes, she argues, "do not effectively serve as proxies for character." Moreover, IIRIRA "fails to recognize expungements, commuted sentences, vacated sentences, and other extraordinary relief - including some pardons  -- that states have given to those worthy of second chances." Hong cites two recent Supreme Court cases: Descamps v. United States and Mathis v. United States as practical examples of how to appropriately manage deportation. Instead of crime-based deportation, Hong calls for a return to an immigration policy that allows for individual assessments before applying the penalty of deportation and differentiates between contributing and non-contributing immigrants. (Sakura Tomizawa)

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The Absurdity of Crime-Based Deportation

Report File: 

Hong, Kari E., The Absurdity of Crime-Based Deportation (December 22, 2016). 50 UC Davis Law Review 2067 (2017); Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 413. Available at SSRN:

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