Using and Defending the Categorical Approach


IDP engages in litigation to defend the application of the “categorical approach” to safeguard fairness in immigration adjudications. Under the immigration laws, a noncitizen generally is not subject to negative immigration consequences, including removal, based on a criminal conviction unless that conviction fits categorically within one of the INA’s criminal removal grounds.  The categorical approach requires adjudicators to determine whether all of the conduct covered under the statute of conviction (or, under the “modified categorical approach,” the conduct covered under a divisible sub-portion of the statute) fits within the alleged criminal removal classification. The adoption and continued application of the categorical approach has been motivated by concerns for uniformity, predictability, efficiency, and judicial review.  IDP appears regularly as amicus curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, and BIA in cases addressing the application of the categorical approach in immigration cases.

Practice Advisories

Amicus Briefs