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Bajan ordered deported

Passport immigration stampA Barbadian woman living in the United States for more than 30 years has failed in her effort to avoid deportation back here. Joanne Bushnell, who filed an action in the US Court of Appeals against the US Attorney General, learnt late last week that her petition for a review had failed.

The woman, who the court said was also known as “Joanne Bushell” has been fighting her deportation for the past three years, action based on a 1997 wounding charge.

“Bushnell, a native and citizen of Barbados, was admitted into the United States in April of 1983 as a lawful permanent resident. On April 3, 1997, Bushnell pleaded guilty in the Prince William County Circuit Court of Virginia to ‘unlawful wounding’ in violation of … the Virginia Code. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment,” court documents noted.

“That sentence was suspended conditioned upon her successful completion of four years of probation. On January 23, 2009, Bushnell was served with a Notice to Appear, which charged, in pertinent part, that she was removable under … the Immigration and Nationality Act, as an alien who has been convicted of an aggravated felony … crime of violence for which term of imprisonment is at least one year.

“Bushnell ultimately appeared with counsel before an immigration judge. Bushnell denied that she was convicted of an aggravated felony, and requested that the removal proceedings against her be terminated. On May 24, 2010, the (judge) found Bushnell removable as charged. The (judge) noted that a conviction under Virginia Code … is an aggravated felony, and, insofar as Bushnell did not request and appeared ineligible for any form of relief, ordered her removed to Barbados,” the court added.

But the woman appealed the decision via the Board of Immigration Appeals and on April 12, 2012, that body affirmed the decision, “ordering Bushnell removed as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony”.

The BIA concluded that Bushnell’s “unlawful wounding” conviction amounted to a “crime of violence” and that because it was an aggravated felony she was removable.

In doing so it rejected her contentions that her suspended sentence did not satisfy the required period of incarceration, “and that the possibility of a conviction for merely causing ‘bodily injury’ to a victim … precluded a determination that her conviction was for a crime of violence”.

Last week, three appeal court circuit judges agreed, and concluded that the BIA “did not err in determining that Bushnell’s conviction is an aggravated felony”.

“Bushnell’s conviction documents (the sentencing order, conviction, and the indictment) identify the offence to which she pleaded guilty as unlawful wounding. The BIA … was correct in its determination that the offence of unlawful wounding … is one that has as an element the use of physical force against the person of another within the meaning,” the judges ruled.

“Additionally, Bushnell has posited no meritorious argument as to how the offence of unlawful wounding … does not amount to an offence that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used during the commission of the offence. Accordingly, we likewise agree with the BIA’s determination that Bushnell’s unlawful wounding conviction is a crime of violence … and she is thus removable as charged.” (SC)

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