The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was used as grounds for the deportation of Juan Esquivel-Quintana, a permanent resident admitted to the U.S. in 2000, after he pled guilty to a California statute in 2009, making sexual intercourse with a minor more than three years younger than the perpetrator a misdemeanor or felony. After the California ruling, Esquivel-Quintana moved to Michigan where the Department of Homeland Security used INA to remove him from the country. INA states that a non-citizen convicted of an aggravated felony (ex: sexual abuse of a minor) may be removed from the United States. An immigration judge authorized Esquivel-Quintana’s removal from the country after finding him guilty of sexual abuse of a minor. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the decision without looking at the individual facts of the case; and the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the BIA’s decision, establishing that BIA should be afforded deference considering an ambiguous statute under Chevron, USA, Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. Additionally, BIA found that the rule of lenity, which favors defendants in the face of ambiguous statutes, did not apply.
Vikrant Reddy, a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, discussed the potential impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling and the main question of the case: whether a California statute’s “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” should be considered an aggravated felony (i.e. “sexual abuse of a minor”) under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and therefore, require mandatory removal.
- Vikrant P. Reddy, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Koch Institute