What if they were foreigners?

Thursday, February 7th, 2008
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

Dan Rostenkowski

Congressman Rostenkowski, who served in Congress from 1959 to 1994 and was chairman of the House of Representatives’s Ways and Means Committee, pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud and was sentenced to seventeen months in prison on April 9, 1996. He was ordered to pay $100,000 in fines and restitution. This conviction would render Mr. Rostenkowski permanently banned from the United States pursuant to INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(iii), removability for an aggravated felony. Chairman Rostenkowki would be considered an aggravated felon for defrauding for an amount in excess of $10,000. INA § 101(a)(43)(M)(i).

His many years of government service would not ward off removal as there is no pardon available for an aggravated felon under current law.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. sentenced in November 1996 to three years probation after pleading no contest to possessing cocaine and heroin, carrying a concealed weapon, and driving under the influence of drugs. He was sentenced to three years in prison in August 1999 for violating probation. Mr. Downey was nominated for an Academy Award for his title role in the 1992 film “Chaplin,” about the life of Charlie Chaplin. Charlie Chaplin, incidentally, was not permitted to return to the United States in 1953, while on a trip to Europe to join the premiere celebrations of his film, Limelight. He did not seek admission to the United States again until 1972.
Mr. Downey would be deportable for controlled substance violations under INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i), for being or for having been at any time an addict, INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(ii) and for having been convicted of a firearms offense. INA § 237(a)(2)(C). He would be eligible for a pardon as none of his crimes or behaviors renders him an aggravated felon.

Randall Todd Cunningham Jr.

Randall Todd Cunningham Jr., son of San Diego Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham was sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison on November 18, 1998, after being convicted of smuggling 400 pounds of marijuana from San Diego to Lawrence, Massachusetts. The crime is a controlled substance violation, rendering him removable pursuant to INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i) and as an aggravated felon under INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(iii) because drug smuggling is an aggravated felony. INA § 101(a)(43)(B). It had originally been planned that he be sentenced to a boot camp and half-way house, but the plan was scrapped after he tested positive for cocaine three times while on bail. Being a drug abuser is a separate ground rendering him deportable. INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(ii).
Because his crime is an aggravated felony he is ineligible for a pardon.


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