Crimes of Moral Turpitude


§ 10.23 2. Foreign Pardons

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A foreign pardon is not effective to eliminate a conviction of a crime that involves moral turpitude for immigration purposes.[258]


In Roccaforte v. Mulcahey,[259] the District Court held deportable a noncitizen who had been convicted in 1945 of (1) breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit burglary and larceny, and (2) possession of burglary tools with intent to commit larceny.  He had been ordered deported for the former offense, and had received a pardon for the latter offense.  Nothing forbids basing a deportation order on two such distinct crimes merely because one of them may have been part of the same criminal scheme as other crimes for which a pardon has been granted.


In Matter of R,[260] the BIA held the Governor’s Pardon received by a Mexican citizen was not sufficient to eliminate the immigration effects of convictions for rape, adultery, false swearing, and child abandonment, claiming it was a restoration of rights only, not an absolute pardon, and was issued as a matter of executive clemency in reward for rehabilitation, under a law making the restoration of rights automatic.  The BIA remanded the case, following the termination of deportation proceedings, to afford the noncitizen an opportunity to apply for a full and unconditional pardon under Wisconsin law.  The BIA observed that Matter of G,[261] which treated a certificate of executive clemency as a pardon under the Immigration Act of 1917, had involved the restoration of civil rights by the governor of Wisconsin in June 1946 before the 1947 session of the Wisconsin legislature, which passed a law providing for the automatic restoration of civil rights to a person who served out his term of imprisonment or otherwise satisfied a sentence.  Before the 1947 legislation, civil rights could be restored only by a pardon, according to a 1916 opinion of the Wisconsin attorney general. The then-incumbent attorney general had stated that the June 1946 order of the governor restoring civil rights was in legal effect a full pardon.


In Matter of Nolan,[262] the Board held that a pardon automatically given to an immigrant from Ireland pursuant to a state constitutional provision did not qualify as a full and unconditional pardon for immigration purposes.  The pardon was issued pursuant to the Louisiana Constitution, which partly provided that on the recommendation of the Board of Pardons the governor may commute sentences, pardon those convicted of criminal offenses, and remit fines and forfeitures imposed therefore, and also that “a first offender never previously convicted of a felony shall be pardoned automatically upon completion of his sentence, without a recommendation of the Board of Pardons and without action by the Governor.” The BIA held that the pardon in this case was neither “full,” since it did not restore his former status of innocence, nor “unconditional,” since it was specifically conditioned on his completion of the sentence imposed for his conviction.  The BIA rejected the argument that because, under Louisiana law, no pardon was available to the noncitizen as a first-felony offender that would satisfy the requirements of the immigration laws, the crime of which he had been convicted should not be considered a “crime” for the purpose of deportability, overruling Matter of Cevallos.[263]

[258] Mullen-Cofee v. INS, 976 F.2d 1375 (11th Cir. 1992), opinion amended on denial of rehearing, 986 F.2d 1364 (11th Cir. 1992); Marino v. INS, 537 F.2d 686 (2d Cir. 1976); Mercer v. Lence, 96 F.2d 122 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 305 U.S. 611, 59 S.Ct. 69 (1938); Palermo v. Smith, 17 F.2d 534 (2d Cir. 1927); Consola v. Karnuth, 108 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1939); Weedin v. Hempel, 28 F.2d 603 (9th Cir. 1928); Vidal y Planas v. Landon, 104 F.Supp. 384 S. D.Cal. 1952); Zgodda v. Holland, 184 F.Supp. 847 (E.D. Pa. 1960) (foreign pardon or expungement by German authorities of a German’s simple larceny and concealing stolen goods convictions did not eliminate them as a basis for deportation); Matter of M, 9 I. & N. Dec. 132 (BIA 1960) (amnesty or pardon, Italy); Matter of B, 7 I. & N. Dec. 166 (BIA 1956) (amnesty); Matter of FYG, 4 I. & N. Dec. 717 (BIA 1952); Matter of G, 5 I. & N. Dec. 129 (BIA 1953); see Dillingham v. INS, 267 F.3d 996 (9th Cir. 2001) (foreign expungement effective by analogy to FFOA, distinguishing foreign pardons).  Cf. Matter of K, 9 I. & N. Dec. 336 (BIA 1961) (pardon issued by U.S. High Commissioner for Germany recognized).

[259] Roccaforte v. Mulcahey, 169 F.Supp. 360 (D. Mass. 1958), aff’d, 262 F.2d 957 (1st Cir. 1959).

[260] Matter of R, 8 I. & N. Dec. 677 (BIA 1960).

[261] Matter of G, 4 I. & N. Dec. 73 (BIA 1950).

[262] Matter of Nolan, 19 I. & N. Dec. 539 (BIA 1988).

[263] Matter of Cevallos, 12 I. & N. Dec. 750 (BIA 1968).