Melissa Cook

Document Type


First Page



The aggravated felony provision of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act was was originally intended to provide for the deportation of non-citizens convicted of very serious crimes. Over the last 15 years, however, the provision has been consistently expanded to include a plethora of minor crimes that are neither aggravated nor felonious. Moreover, Congress has categorically prohibited aggravated felons from applying for discretionary, equitable relief. This Note contends that the sweeping and indiscriminately applied aggravated felony provision violates an individual's universally recognized right to respect for family and private life. The Note concludes that to comply with international law and treaty obligations, Congress should follow the standards employed by the European Court of Human Rights in deportation cases. Under this approach, a court may overturn a deportation order when the relevant interests of the non-citizen outweigh those ofthe United States.