Millions have tuned into the Netflix series, Inventing Anna, which featured Anna Sorokin and how she conned the wealthy and elite and financial institutions of Manhattan into giving her money for her “projects” which ultimately were only meant to fund her lavish lifestyle.
In October 2017, the famed fake German heiress, Anna Sorokin, was charged by the Manhattan District Attorney with ten charges, and in April 2019, a Manhattan jury convicted Sorokin of eight of the ten charges. The charges against Sorokin included one count of attempted grand larceny in the first degree; two counts of grand larceny in the second degree; one count of grand larceny in the third degree; and four counts of misdemeanor theft of services.
Although Ms. Sorokin was released from jail for her criminal convictions in February 2021, she has yet to resolve her immigration violations. After spending six weeks out of jail, on March 25, 2021, Ms. Sorokin was placed back into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (commonly known as ICE) for immigration violations and only recently has been released under certain conditions as she awaits her fate with an immigration judge.
Ms. Sorokin managed to pull a rabbit out of her hat by getting released on bond during immigration proceedings; this is almost unheard of. Her conviction of crimes alone made her a target to be removed from the United States, as she is not a United States citizen. Ms. Sorokin allegedly overstayed her visa, was detained, and deportation proceedings were begun. She reportedly filed for asylum, alleging she cannot return to her home country (Germany) for fear of persecution against her due to her fame attained in the United States, and related threats.
Most people who have committed crimes have the misfortune of immediately being placed in ICE custody after completing their prison sentence and never seeing the light of day until a US immigration judge decides their fate.
For you reality TV fans, you may remember Joe Giudice, the ex-husband of Teresa Giudice of the Real Housewife of New Jersey. He was convicted of mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud in 2014. After Joe served time in federal prison for these crimes, he was never released from prison. Instead, he was immediately placed into ICE custody and ultimately deported from the United States.
It is important to note that Joe Giudice was a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and was still deported and not released on an immigration bond. Ms. Sorokin is not a green card holder and has no special ties to the United States, yet was still granted bond during her deportation proceedings. Both Ms. Sorokin and Joe Giudice committed fraud and financial crimes. Yet one was released from prison and the other was not.
Mandatory Detention Laws
So how did Ms. Sorokin manage to walk out of the prison without getting put into ICE custody? The answer lies in the laws controlling mandatory detention for immigrants.
For a person to be subject to mandatory detention, all the following criteria must be met:
- First Requirement: the person’s conduct must fall within certain criminal grounds for deportability or inadmissibility. Sorokin’s crimes fall under that requirement“larceny, whether grand or petit, has always been held to involve moral turpitude regardless of the sentence imposed.”
- Second Requirement: ICE must take the person into custody when the person is released from criminal custody In February 2021, Sorokin completed her criminal sentence and was released for six weeks before ICE detained her in March 2021 for overstaying her visa. It is unclear whether this requirement is satisfied because there is ongoing debate as to whether ICE must take someone into custody immediately when they are released from criminal custody. In the case Matter of Rojas, a person could still be subject to mandatory detention despite being out in the community for months or years after release from criminal custody. However, federal courts have increasingly required ICE to detain a person immediately after release from actual criminal custody in order to subject them to mandatory detention.
- Third Requirement: the release must be from criminal custody after October 9, 1998. Sorokin was released in 2021, so this requirement is met.
- Fourth Requirement: the person must be in custody for an offense that triggers mandatory detention, at the time of release. Sorokin was in custody for such an offense (see the first requirement).
Ms. Sorokin is in deportation proceedings and the United States is attempting to deport her back to Germany through the power of the Department of Homeland Security. However, now that she is not detained by ICE and is not in custody, her immigration proceedings will move at the pace of a snail, and she may not have a hearing for two years, based on the current speed of the Executive Office of Immigration Review’s calendar in a Covid world.
If I were a betting woman, I would think that Ms. Sorokin will be deported after her defensive asylum trial in Immigration Court. But Ms. Sorokin has a history of proving people wrong, so I’ll have to see if she has any more rabbits in the hat. I’m hoping for a V.I.P. seat at the show.
Requirements adapted from https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/mandatory_detention_ice_hold_policy_handout.pdf