What if she was a foreigner?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton, great granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, and famous person in her own right, pled guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession in Las Vegas on September 17, 2010. She was sentenced to one year probation, 200 hours community service, $2,000 fine and ordered to complete a drug abuse program. Possessing drugs is a deportable offense under INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i). It is waivable for a permanent resident if the permanent resident has resided in the United States for the past seven years after a lawful admission and has been a permanent resident for five years. To obtain the waiver, she would have to balance the positive equities in her life versus her criminal history and other past conduct. DUI’s, and prior arrests for drugs in South Africa and Corsica would not be helpful. Long residence, family ties, property and business interests, and contributions to the community, would be helpful equities. So would remorse and rehabilitation. It is also a mandatory detention crime, meaning that she would have to stay detained while asking for her waiver, which would last more than six months based on how things work in San Diego, where I practice.

Drug possession is also a ground of inadmissibility, INA § 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II). She could get the same waiver as a permanent resident. If she were not a permanent resident, she would face a non-waivable permanent bar to admission to the United States as a permanent resident (immigrant visa) based on the possession of cocaine. She could get a waiver for a temporary visa (nonimmigrant visa) if she applied for a waiver. INA § 212(d)(3).  She would have to apply for a waiver in advance. So, just as what just happened to her in Japan, if she applied for admission to the United States with her cocaine conviction and a previously-issued visa and no waiver, she would be denied admission. Under U.S. law, she would also be ordered deported at the border. INA § 235(b)(1)(B)(iii)(I). Having been deported is a separate ground of inadmissibility. INA § 212(a)(9)(A)(i). This means she would need a waiver for a prior deportation as well as the cocaine possession to get a temporary visa. Posted September 22, 2010.



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