This afternoon, the Board published an important decision regarding crimes involving moral turpitude.

While it would make sense for the Attorney General to just over-rule Matter of Silva-Trevino as many expected him to when he was appointed, Matter of Ahortalejo-Guzman at least rolls back a bit of the powers implied in Silva-Trevino for IJs to conduct fishing expeditions outside of the record of conviction.

Augmenting the Silva-Trevino approach, the Board now indicates that the “heirarchical approach” outlined in Silva-Trevino 

“serves the important function of recognizing and preserving the results of a plea bargain, where the parties, with the consent of a trial judge, agree to allow the defendant to plead to a less serious crime.”

The IJ is not permitted to “leapfrog over the second step of the analysis to rely on sources outside the record of conviction, even though the record of conviction evidence fully resolves the issue.”  To be clear, the Board held that

“the third stage analysis outlined in Matter of Silva-Trevino is properly applied only where the record of conviction does not itself resolve the issue, that is, where the record does not conclusively demonstrate whether an alien was convicted of engaging in conduct that constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude.”