By Anita Maddali | 61 Am. U. L. Rev. 1 (2011)
In this Article, I argue that the deportation of lawful permanent residents on account of a criminal conviction is punitive, and therefore enhanced constitutional protections must be afforded to lawful permanent residents during removal proceedings. To support this argument I rely, in part, on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Padilla v. Kentucky. The Padilla Court held that counsel must inform a client when a plea carries the risk of deportation. The Court’s analysis throughout the decision is groundbreaking in its recognition of the modern day realities of deportation—specifically the growing relationship between the immigration and criminal justice systems and the ways in which criminal convictions and deportation have become enmeshed over the years.
The Court’s language provides support for the argument that deportation may not be a remedial exercise by the government to enforce immigration laws—as the Court has held for over a century—but may in fact constitute punishment. If deportation is recognized as punishment, then additional constitutional protections, like the right to counsel, must be afforded to lawful permanent residents who are in removal proceedings on account of criminal convictions.
This Article is novel in two respects. First, it offers a fresh look at the punitive nature of deportation, using the Padilla decision, and other case law, to bolster this argument. Second, this Article suggests that the analytical approach used by the Supreme Court in its juvenile delinquency jurisprudence, which extended greater constitutional protections to juveniles during the adjudicative stage of delinquency proceedings, could provide the framework for determining which protections should be afforded to lawful permanent residents who are in removal proceedings on account of a criminal conviction. Like deportation, juvenile delinquency proceedings have been labeled civil, but the Court has recognized that because a finding of delinquency could result in incarceration, the Due Process Clause requires additional protections during these proceedings. Similarly, lawful permanent residents face the risk of being removed from their country of permanent residence—this results in separation from family and removal from a person’s home. As such, due process requires the need for additional protections.