U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Tuesday that it has revised its policies governing “good moral character” standards for immigrants in response to U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s direction.
In a pair of Oct. 25 decisions arising from immigration cases, Barr wrote in the first that “evidence of two or more convictions for driving under the influence during the relevant period establishes a rebuttable presumption that the alien lacked good moral character during that time.”
Consequently, there is now a default position that a person with two DUI convictions lacks good moral character, unless an applicant demonstrates otherwise, a USCIS spokesperson said.
The agency said that certain immigration benefits require immigrants to demonstrate good moral character in naturalization and deportation proceedings.
In a second instance, Barr decided that a “term of imprisonment or sentence” refers to an immigrant's original criminal sentence. He wrote that modifications to a state court sentence unrelated to the proceedings, “such as the alien’s rehabilitation or an interest in avoiding an immigration consequence” should not matter in immigration court.
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition responded in a statement that “To err is to be human. Every human being deserves a chance at redemption. There is no need to re-punish someone if they paid their dues to society.
"We live in a society where an Aurora police officer can be drinking on the job with his vehicle running and not be penalized, but immigrants and their families are penalized twice for the same offense.”
The comment was a reference to a March incident in which an Aurora police officer was found unresponsive on duty in his vehicle, the result of intoxication.