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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Filogonio Garcia-Maldonado (Garcia), a native and citizen of Mexico, legally entered the United States in 1964. After his admission, Garcia was convicted of two crimes under Texas law: by guilty plea in 1994 of assault with a deadly weapon and by jury conviction in 1998 of failure to stop and render aid following a fatal auto accident in which he was involved. Garcia later left the United States, and, when he returned in 2000, authorities charged him as an inadmissible arriving alien. The immigration judge (IJ) found Garcia removable on the basis of the two aforementioned convictions, deeming both crimes aggravated felonies. The IJ also found that the 1994 assault conviction was for a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) and implied without expressly stating that the 1998 conviction was for a CIMT as well. Garcia appealed to the BIA. Garcia did not challenge his removability on appeal to the BIA. Rather, he appealed the IJ’s determination that he was ineligible to apply for a waiver of deportation under former Immigration & Naturalization Act (INA) �212(c), because the 1998 failure-to-stop conviction did not meet the criteria for discretionary relief under that section. Garcia sought to eliminate the 1998 crime from consideration as a removable offense, arguing that the failure-to-stop conviction was neither a CIMT nor an aggravated felony and was not a conviction for immigration purposes, because it was on appeal. The BIA held that, because a vacated conviction remains a conviction for immigration purposes under the law of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the failure-to-stop conviction likewise remained a conviction, whether on appeal or not. The BIA did not rule on whether the failure-to-stop conviction was an aggravated felony, deeming Garcia removable without such a finding, because the failure-to-stop conviction was for a CIMT. Garcia sought review of the Bureau of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) final order affirming the IJ’s determination that Garcia’s hit-and-run conviction under the Texas Transportation Code qualified as a crime involving moral turpitude, rendering him ineligible for discretionary relief from removal. The government questioned the 5th Circuit’s jurisdiction to entertain this appeal. HOLDING:Affirmed. First, the court found that it had jurisdiction, because the issue of whether Garcia’s failure-to-stop conviction involved a CIMT was a purely legal question. Next, the court noted that under 8 U.S.C. �1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), an alien who has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude is inadmissible. Under 8 U.S.C. �1227(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), such inadmissible aliens are deportable. The INA, however, does not define the term “moral turpitude,” and legislative history does not reveal congressional intent regarding which crimes are “turpitudinous.” Nonetheless, the court decreed that failure to stop and render aid under Texas Transportation Code �550.021 is a CIMT for immigration purposes. Immigration regulations, the court explained, provide only that a CIMT is an offense that is both: 1. a crime in the jurisdiction of occurrence; and 2. a crime of turpitude per the “moral standards generally prevailing in the United States.” The BIA, through its administrative decisions, has interpreted and defined “crime involving moral turpitude” as follows: “Moral turpitude refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general. Moral turpitude has been defined as an act which is per se morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong, or malum in se, so it is the nature of the act itself and not the statutory prohibition of it which renders a crime one of moral turpitude. Among the tests to determine if a crime involves moral turpitude is whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or a corrupt mind.” The court agreed with the BIA’s conclusion that the failure to stop and render aid after being involved in an automobile accident was the type of behavior that reflects moral turpitude. Moral turpitude inheres in this crime, the court stated, because the offense reflected an intentional attempt to evade responsibility and was intrinsically wrong. Thus, because Garcia’s offense under �550.021 was both morally reprehensible and contrary to the accepted rules of morality in our society, the court found it to be a CIMT for immigration purposes. OPINION:Reavley, J.; Reavley, Garza and Dennis, JJ.

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