Sunday, July 24, 2011

BIA Finds Conviction for Violating Kansas No-Contact Provision Is a Removable Offense

A conviction for violation of the no-contact provision of a protection order issued under the Kansas Protection from Abuse Act constitutes a removable offense under INA §237(a)(2)(E)(ii). Matter of Strydom, 25 I&N Dec. 507 (BIA 2011).

The Board held that a conviction under section 21-3843(a)(1) of the Kansas Statutes Annotated for telephoning a person protected by the order constitutes a deportable offense under section 237(a)(2)(E)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Section 237(a)(2)(E)(ii) provides that an alien admitted to the U.S. who violates “the portion of a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person or persons for whom the protection order was issued is deportable.”

Contacting the subject of a protection order by telephone made the respondent deportable even if the call did not involve threats or repeated harassment. It reasoned that the no-contact portion of a protection order (as opposed to portions concerning attending counseling or paying costs) involved protection from credible threats, repeated harassment, or bodily injury because a court would only issue it if there had been past abuse or threats and the no-contact order protects the victim from being victimized again.

The Board did not discuss the potential significance of the fact that the case involved a temporary protection order, which typically is issued before the court determines if credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury actually had occurred.  Indeed, the telephone call in this case occurred twenty days before the hearing on the restraining order.  The temporary restraining order thus apparently was based only on the woman’s unproven allegations.

The Board’s construction gives no effect to the statutory language that seems to require a determination that the threats, repeated harassment, or bodily injury had occurred and that any threats were credible.  A better construction would require, at least in the case of unproven ex parte temporary restraining orders, that the immigration judge actually find that the violation did involve such conduct.

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