Book Review: Crying Wolf or a Dying Canary?


I recently received a plea for help from a tearful U.S. citizen who is the mother of a twenty-five-year-old lawful permanent resident from Panama. She told me that her son has lived in Boston with his entire family since the age of four. He thought he was a U.S. citizen, too, like all of his relatives here. But, for a variety of complicated reasons, he was mistaken. She said he was now beginning his second tortuous week in solitary confinement twenty-three hours per day in a New Hampshire jail– with no right even to a bail hearing-as he awaited deportation due to an old assault plea for which he had received a suspended sentence. Although it was not a basis for deportation at the time of the plea, assault is now retroactively deemed to be an aggravated felony and, since 1996, a suspended sentence is no different from a year served in prison for purposes of immigration law. Unless the conviction could be somehow “collaterally” attacked (i.e., eliminated, vacated, or materially changed by the state criminal court) the young man would have virtually no chance to avoid deportation and a lifetime ban from this country.

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