Law is Stranger than Fiction Episode 6 Immigration Prostitution

Steven: Good afternoon and welcome to another session of Law is Stranger than Fiction. I am one of your co-hosts Steven Bergman.

Barry: And I am Barry Scholl, the other co-host. We are shareholders in the law firm of Richards Brandt Miller Nelson in Salt Lake City.

Steven: Today we have a special guest, Barbara Melendez, the head of our immigration law practice.

Barry: And Barbara is going to ask the existential question, “To be or not to be a prostitute a pimp or a John and which one might get me deported?”

Steven: The answer might surprise you.

Barbara: It’s true. So should we talk about how we step into that option to be a prostitute, a John, or a pimp, and which one actually gets you deported? I think you have to ask the question of what is a crime of moral turpitude, which is the base for having a foreign national removed from the United States.

Barry: Okay then we will ask, what is a crime of moral turpitude?

Barbara: All right, well a crime of moral turpitude is a crime that is vile or depraved or inherently terrible or contrary to the community standards of honesty of good morals– that’s the definition.

Steven: And so you’re telling me that this definition, which  I’ve come across like antitrust law for  example can convicted commit an antitrust violation that’s considered a crime of moral turpitude no fraud things like that. But you’re telling me that this applies to prostitution?

Barbara: Absolutely.

Steven: Okay in what way?

Barbara: Well under the regulations under INA 212A it talks about if you are the prostitute then you  are committing a crime of moral turpitude. However, case law has shown that if you are, instead of the prostitute, the John then you have not committed a crime of moral turpitude because you are procuring this service. And if you’re the pimp you’re providing a service and it’s not considered a problem of moral turpitude.

Steven: Notwithstanding, the fact that all three are illegal?

Barbara: Correct, but  being the prostitute under INA regulations and, more importantly under a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, has determined that the prostitute, who is actually not only committing the crime, but she is violating the standards of good moral character, under the crimes involving moral turpitude, she then or he becomes deportable.

Barry: So that is the penalty for being guilty of moral turpitude?

Barbara: The fact that you are selling your body to services.

Steven: And has this issue actually gone before the Board of Immigration Appeals?

Barbara: It certainly has. It was a decision decided on Gonzalez sex plan, a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals that broke down the language and explained that it appears as if Congress when they wrote this law was focused primarily on those who are committing the crime not those who are procuring the crime.

Barry: Now Barbara, you mentioned INA will you tell us what that is?

Barbara: Sure, the INA is the immigration Nationality Act. It’s basically the premise of law for all immigration related issues.

Steven: And has this issue of prostitutes being deported for prostitution actually gone before the Board of Immigration Appeals?

Barbara: It certainly has. It’s gone before one of the key cases is called the matter of Gonzalez sex appeal and that case determines exactly how the Board interpreted the regulation related to  prostitution. Let’s step back historically a little bit so that we understand when I talk about somebody being deported it’s also the same thing as being admissible in to the United States. So you can be admitted into the United States or you can be removed from the United States. It’s almost the mirror image of being allowed to remain or being allowed to leave.

Steven: Okay and so in this case you’re talking about… what happened, what was the ruling in that case?

Barbara: So the ruling in that case was that procuring prostitution– that’s okay, but being the prostitute that’s not okay. And it goes back to the history of people who were admitted into the United States years ago. When the INA was established you could not be admitted into the United States or be admissible if you were a prostitute, if you had mental problems, if you had didn’t have enough money, or someone to support you. Now we’ve added a terrorist provision, if you’re a terrorist. Um, all these provisions are reasons to not be admissible. Terrorism, prostitution just happens to be one of them. Prostitution hysterically– historically, not hysterically– historically, prostitution has been defined as the person selling their body versus the person who has been purchasing.

Steven: So is an example, it’s better to be the buyer than the seller?

Barbara: That would be true.

Barry: So, is this enough to keep you out the door?

Barbara: It’s enough to keep you out the door and it’s enough to not allow your foot to get in the door.

Steven: What about the 5 inch nail in the foot?

Barbara: That one too.

Steven: Alright, so if you find yourself with a strange immigration question, contact the attorneys at Richards Brandt Miller Nelson. For now, this is…

Together: Law is Stranger than Fiction.