A U.S. immigration judge ordered the removal of resident aliens Akio and Fusako Kawashima, saying the husband's conviction for willfully making and subscribing a false tax return and his wife's conviction for aiding and assisting him qualified as crimes involving fraud or deceit under federal law.
The Kawashimas were Japanese natives who started a successful restaurant in California.
The immigration judge said the convictions involved losses to the government of more than $10,000, and were therefore "aggravated felonies," which triggered removal under federal law. The immigration board and a federal appeals court in San Francisco agreed.
The couple asked the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said Congress meant to include fraud as an aggravated offense in the law.