Volume 12
Issue 1
Spring '20

The Racialization of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Written By: Elijah T. Staggers

Abstract

This Note argues that the executive branch’s attempt to remove non-citizens for criminal street gang activity is not an effort to target immoral conduct. Rather, the executive branch is, and has been historically, manipulating the phrase “moral turpitude” to systematically target, condemn, and exclude racial groups deemed socially undesirable. The executive branch pursues this program by relying on longstanding tropes or stereotypes that certain races have inherently immoral traits. Thus, as future courts give legal effect to the INA and determine whether non-citizen racial minorities should be deported for immoral conduct, it is imperative that those courts fully understand the racist presumptions and white supremacist agenda upon which the INA is predicated.

This Note raises two arguments that future courts of appeals ought to consider. First, removing groups of immigrants based on society’s judgment of their alleged uniform immorality is an exercise of white supremacy and is patently racist. Second, any moral judgment which a court may levy on minority immigrant gang members must take into account the United States’ direct role in creating those gangs through foreign intervention, economic exploitation, and the creation of the Americanized ghetto.

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