New research by University of Miami law professor analyzes issues in immigration law

CORAL GABLES, FL (November 17, 2009) — University of Miami Law Professor Rebecca A. Sharpless has recently authored a research paper titled, “Toward a True Elements Test: Taylor and the Categorical Analysis of Crimes in Immigration Law.”

When determining the legal effect of a conviction under immigration law, adjudicators claim to apply a uniform, federal standard that prohibits fact-finding regarding the underlying circumstances that gave rise to the conviction. Though firmly rooted, this categorical analysis of crimes exists amid confusion concerning what it means to apply a categorical approach to evaluating when a criminal conviction is of a type that triggers deportation. Sharpless’ article demonstrates that a source of this confusion is a misunderstanding of the nature of a conviction and the difference between a fact necessarily decided to establish an element of the crime and an extraneous fact that appears in the record of conviction. This perplexity has undermined the well-settled principle that immigration adjudicators lack the authority to determine the facts underlying a conviction when deportation depends on a conviction rather than conduct.

The article goes onto analyze immigration agency decisions as well as federal court decisions, focusing on the immigration and criminal sentencing jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The research has been published by the University of Miami Law Review, and is available now.

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