Don’t Let the Category Fool You
In a case brought before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the question of whether the current scope of a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment was broad enough to include the offense of endangering the welfare of a child in the state of New York. Let’s start with a brief summary of the complaint.
The respondent, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, is facing deportation by the Department of Homeland Security to his native country under the conviction of endangering the welfare of a child. He was arguing that the offense as stated is not “categorically” a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment and therefore has no merit for his removal.
Based on the respondents’ complaint, the courts were tasked to review only the first phrase of the New York Penal Law on endangering the welfare of a child as the second phrase is not addressed in the appeal. In the state of New York, A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child when:
“He or she knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental, or moral welfare of a child less than seventeen years old”
It is the responsibility of the courts to decide if the States definition of the crime falls within the Federal category of the same offense. This can be especially difficult as States offer a variety of terms to outline an endangerment-type offense which makes it necessary for a State-by-State review of the offense to see if it falls within the definition of ‘child abuse’ under the outlined Act.
The Appeals court concluded that the offense of endangering the welfare of a child as stated in the New York Penal Law is categorically a “crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment”. While the court acknowledges that not every endangerment statue will meet their definition, in this specific case the requirements were met. Therefore the respondents appeal was dismissed.