the immigration consequences of Tejada’s guilty plea

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on February 18, 2009

or, Tejada won’t be leaving the United States anytime soon, says Ryan.

Last week, Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to making a false representation to Congressional investigators in 2005.  Tejada is a former Baltimore Orioles baseball player and was the 2002 American League MVP.  Now he plays for some lesser team — the Astros, maybe?  Anyway, in 2005 he represented he wasn’t involved in the whole steroid thing.  Now, he says he was:

In a signed statement attached to his plea deal, Tejada also acknowledged buying $6,300 of human growth hormone from a teammate in 2003. But he told authorities that, after purchasing the drugs, he had second thoughts and threw them out, assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler said at the hearing.

Umm, yeah, I believe that. Remember, this is the guy who lied about his age until ESPN confronted him with his birth certificate.

Anyway, Tejada’s lawyer is confident that nothing bad will happen to Tejada:

Although Tejada, a citizen of the Dominican Republic with permanent-resident alien status in the United States, could face deportation for the misdemeanor conviction, Tuohey said he has already discussed Tejada’s status with immigration officials and believes the case “will have no impact on his immigration status at all.”

Umm, yeah, I believe that.

It’s true that Tejada probably won’t be kicked out of the US — he’s been here too long and the crime is too minor.  But it’s likely he’ll run into problems if he ever leaves the US and tries to return.  Tejada’s new problem is INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), parallel cited at 8 USC 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).  This provision says:

(2) Criminal and related grounds

(A) Conviction of certain crimes

(i) In general Except as provided in clause (ii), any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of—

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime, or

(II) a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of title 21),
is inadmissible.

Here’s how this all works.  If you’re a noncitizen coming into the US, there’s this big list of reasons for not letting you in.  When you cross the border, you have an interview with a border agent — think of them as bouncers for Club US.  If they think you meet one of the reasons, boom, you don’t get to come in.

Unfortunately for Tejada, a crime of moral turpitude is one of those reasons (A crime of moral turpitude is essentially any crime with an intent element; it’s easier to list the crimes that are NOT crimes of moral turpitude, which are DUI, disturbing the peace, simple battery, assault, trespass, or involuntary manslaughter.  There could be others that are charged so infrequently I can’t remember them right now, but that’s a pretty complete list anyway.)  Making a false representation is indeed a crime of moral turpitude.

So, what’s this mean for Tejada?  If he leaves the US and tries to come back, he could be excluded.  I say could because a border agent could always just let him in anyway — you know, celebrity and all that.  But saying his plea doesn’t affect his immigration status at all?  Swing and a miss.

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