An interesting decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals came out last month. In Matter of U. Singh, 25 I & N Dec. 670 (BIA 2012), the Board held that a stalking offense for harassing conduct in a violation of a California law did constitute a crime of violence, and because the sentence was at least one year, was properly deemed an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(F) of the INA. The penal code at issue is a California statute, but some of the concepts discussed are very important and applicable in general. Of critical importance, the Board says, is the locus of the inquiry when dealing with a crime of violence: “whether the offense, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that the perpetrator will use force in completing its commission.” In this particular case, the Board felt that the act of stalking creates a substantial risk that the “stalkee” (the person being harassed) will resist and cause the perpetrator to use force either to defend him or herself or to achieve the intended harassment. The Board held that the offense by its very nature creates a substantial risk of force being used during its commission and thus could be construed as a crime of violence.
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