News broke earlier today that The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Joe Giudice is officially in removal proceedings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The announcement has spawned numerous articles claiming that Joe will be deported, and Joe’s attorney has responded to say that no decision has been made. So, what exactly does it mean that he is in removal proceedings?
I should first set the stage by reminding you that Joe is currently serving a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud, which he began in March of 2016, a couple months after his wife Teresa Giudice was released. Joe is scheduled to get out of prison in 2019.
As far as Joe’s citizenship and why he is even at risk of being deported, Joe’s parents immigrated from Italy to the United States when he was 1, but they never had him naturalized as a U.S. citizen.
If a legal permanent resident such as Giudice commits an aggravated felony or a crime of “moral turpitude” — that category includes fraud — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can begin the removal process. If so, Giudice will likely be moved into immigration custody at the end of his sentence, says Michael Wildes, an Englewood Cliffs immigration lawyer.
ICE guidelines suggest that Giudice, because of the nature and number of his crimes, would be subject to “mandatory detention” and would not be able to post bond and wait out at home the months and often years it takes for an immigration case to wind its way through the courts, according to Newark immigration lawyer Robert Frank.
It was previously revealed that ICE had placed a detainer on Joe, which “is a tool used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials when the agency identifies potentially deportable individuals who are held in jails or prisons nationwide,” according to the American Immigration Council.
A detainer requires probable cause that the individual is deportable and instructs federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies (LEA) to hold individuals for up to 48 business hours beyond the time they otherwise would have been released.
So if we knew that ICE had issued a detainer for Joe, then why all the hubbub today? Because an ICE spokesperson revealed that they have officially taken the next step in their investigation. “ICE has lodged a detainer, and he is in removal proceedings,” a spokesperson told Radar Online.
What does it mean that Joe is in removal proceedings? It merely means that ICE is officially investigating Joe to determine if he should be removed — aka deported.
From JCS Law:
Non-citizens (aliens and permanent residents) can be placed in Removal Proceedings. This refers to the legal process of removing or deporting a non-citizen from the United States, due to various issues including overstaying an approved visa, violations, denial of immigrant petitions, criminal convictions, and other problems.
The vast majority of people who are not represented by an experienced attorney in removal proceedings get deported, while the vast majority of people who have good legal representation in removal proceedings are allowed to stay here. If you are deported, you stand to lose everything that you have built in the United States, including your home, your business, and your ability to be with your family.
Joe is represented by an experienced attorney, James J. Leonard Jr., and he issued a statement to People clarifying that there has been NO DECISION made as to whether or not Joe will be deported:
I can state with absolute certainty that no decision has been made regarding the immigration status of Joe Giudice. The same immigration detainer that was lodged against him in March of 2016 remains in place today, but I want to be absolutely clear about this, no judicial authority has made any decision regarding what will happen with that detainer.
Mr. Giudice has immigration counsel who are and have been working aggressively on his behalf so that he can return home to his wife and four young daughters and we remain optimistic that that is how this will end.
In summary, the news that Joe Giudice is officially in removal proceedings isn’t really very big news because it was expected. (It would have been bigger news if an ICE spokesperson had revealed they decided to forego removal proceedings with Joe.) That does not diminish the fact that Joe is at serious risk of being deported due to the nature of the crimes he was convicted of. It is believed that he will use the potentially extreme hardship that his deportation will place on his family as a large part of his defense, but his defense team will need to do a lot more to convince the ICE court to allow him to stay.