UC Law Journal


The United States relies, in part, on certain criminal convictions to determine which noncitizens are deportable. The specific types of criminal convictions subjecting an individual to deportation proceedings are found in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). However, the INA only lists categories and types of crimes that trigger deportation. It is the courts’ responsibility to compare the state criminal statute grounding the conviction with the list provided under the INA. This process is done using the “categorical approach,” which allows courts to make a comparison and determine if a state criminal conviction matches a crime listed in the INA, subjecting a noncitizen to deportation proceedings. This approach is complicated and, at times, arbitrary. The results are particularly harsh considering a lack of a statute of limitations for deportation proceedings, which often results in deportation proceedings commencing decades after a conviction. This Note addresses the problems underling the use of the categorical approach and suggests establishing a statute of limitations to limit the consequences of late deportation proceedings on noncitizens, their families, and the courts.

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