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The Supreme Court is making it easier for the government to deport or otherwise remove people who are not U.S. citizens if they are convicted of seemingly minor state crimes.

The justices ruled 5-3 Thursday that a man who spent 23 years living in New York as a lawful permanent resident can be barred from re-entering the country because of a 1999 conviction for attempted arson.

George Luna Torres had served one day in prison and five years of probation after pleading guilty in state court but otherwise had a clean record since his parents brought him into the country from the Dominican Republic in 1983.

But the government argued that the state law conviction was equivalent to an aggravated felony for purposes of immigration law.

Under immigration law, a lawful permanent resident can be deported or denied re-entry to the United States after being convicted of an aggravated felony. Those offenses include certain federal crimes as well as state offenses that share the same elements.


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