Expunged Record No Help With Immigration Enforcement

May 22, 2015

The Iowa Supreme Court says it can’t grant post-conviction relief to an immigrant trying to avoid deportation.

In 2011, Victor Hernandez-Galarza pleaded guilty to using a false social security number to title vehicles. Because of his "willingness to surrender" Hernandez-Galarza was offered a deferred judgment for lesser charges.

Hernandez-Galarza successfully completed probation and his record was expunged. 

The state of Iowa doesn’t consider a deferred judgment to be a criminal conviction, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does. Now Hernandez-Galarza may be deported.

Hernandez-Galarza applied for post-conviction relief. He says his attorney didn’t explain the immigration consequences of his plea.

Today the Iowa Supreme Court ruled it has no power to protect Hernandez-Galarza from deportation, since it can't tell the federal government how to interpret a deferred judgment. So Hernandez-Galarza may be deported with a cleared criminal record.