OCTOBER 15, 2007
Claiming that the crime was not base, vile or depraved, a federal appeals court has reversed a lower court ruling calling for the deportation of a Mexican immigrant convicted of having sex with a minor.
Alberto Quintero was convicted and served an 11-month prison sentence after admitting that he had illegal sex with a teenage girl in 1998. Federal authorities sought to deport him in 2002 and immigration courts granted the order about a year later.
Quintero, who is married and has two U.S.-born children, appealed and remained in northern California until the notoriously liberal and often overturned 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on his case recently.
While the court acknowledged that legal residents can indeed be deported for committing crimes of â??moral turpitudeâ? that violate societyâ??s moral standards, it said that definition doesnâ??t fit the crime committed by Quintero.
In a 2-1 ruling, the justices wrote that illegal intercourse between an adult over 21 and a youth under 16 was not the type of â??vile, base or depravedâ? conduct that subjects a lawful U.S. resident to deportation although it did violate state law and was â??unwise and socially unacceptable to many.â?
The opinion goes on to note that some of the conduct banned by the law would be legal if the adult and minor were married, which is a moot point since they were not. It concludes by saying that â??Californiaâ??s purpose in passing the law (making it illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor) reveals that is was not moral,â? but rather an attempt to â??reduce teenage pregnancies.â?
Dissenting Judge Andrew Kleinfeld pointed out that the crime must be considered a deportable offense under past rulings that classified statutory rape as sexual abuse of a minor, even when it is consensual.
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