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What is a single scheme of criminal conduct for removal (CIMT) purposes?

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in an immigration case, Matter of Islam, 25 I&N Dec. 637 (BIA 2011) dealing with the issue of when do criminal acts arise out of a single scheme of criminal miscounduct for purposes of whether someone should be removed (deported) for committing two crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT).

The Immigration Laws require the removal of a non-citizen who has commited two or more CIMT's. However, there is an exception if the crimes involving moral turpitude arise out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct. Unfroturnately the anti-immigrant decision below, the court conservatively defined when a crime arises out of a single scheme. In this case, when the person in a single day of activitiy engaged in continuing acts, the BIA held them as separate (full decision below):

"(1) In determining whether an alien’s convictions for two or more crimes involving moral turpitude arose out of a “single scheme of criminal misconduct” within the meaning of section 237(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) (2006), the Board will uniformly apply its interpretation of that phrase in all circuits. Matter of Adetiba, 20 I&N Dec. 506 (BIA 1992), followed.

(2) Where the respondent was convicted in two counties of forgery and possession of stolen property based on his use of multiple stolen credit or debit cards to obtain items of value from several retail outlets on five separate occasions over the course of a day, his crimes did not arise out of a “single scheme of criminal misconduct.”

Ricky Malik, Esq.


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