Supreme Court Rules: No More Deportation for Minor Drug Offenses
This week, the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1996 law that made it possible to deport documented immigrants that were convicted of minor drug-possession. Finally, some good news. At RaceWire, Seth Freed Wessler explains that the ruling could drastically change a law which has “helped drive rising deportation numbers.”
The plaintiff was Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, a legal permanent resident who came to the United States in 1983 when he was five years old. A lower court had ruled that Carachuri-Rosendo “was subject to mandatory deportation under the 1996 law as a result of two minor drug-possession offenses, one for marijuana and the other for a single tablet of Xanax, an anti-anxiety prescription drug often used recreationally.”
Since the 1990s, several laws with increasingly severe penalties for immigrants have passed. Until the most recent Supreme Court decision, all resulted in mandatory deportation.
On another front, DREAM Act supporters held a 10-day hunger strike in the DC office of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week. The activists demanded that the legislator move forward with the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth who were 15 years old or younger when their parents brought them to the United States.
New America Media notes that at a subsequent rally in Manhattan, the “hunger strikers and students at the rally criticized [Schumer], chairman of the Senate immigration subcommittee, who has the power to move the DREAM Act forward.”
Schumer, once considered a champion of immigrants rights and a lead negotiator in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform this year, is facing harsh criticism from the immigrant rights community for failing to deliver on reform or back the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill.
Border violence declines
More data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation demonstrates that violent crime is dwindling in border cities. As Julianne Ong Hing reports at Colorlines, new FBI records show that murder rates have fallen significantly in San Diego, CA, Phoenix, AZ, El Paso, TX, and Tuscon, AZ.
Despite these findings, the White House has already allocated 1,200 National Guard troops and an additional $500 million to fight crime and violent drug trafficking organizations on the border. Yet, as Adam Serwer at the American Prospect writes, “There is no spillover violence from the border – in fact the top four big cities with the lowest crime rates are all along the border.”
In fact, the worst violence appears to be coming from the Border Patrol itself. In the last few weeks, two Mexican citizens were killed by patrol officers near the border — one of them a 15-year-old boy who was on Mexican soil.
Secure Communities, a national database that gives certain local law enforcement authorities access to a biometrics database to identify and arrest undocumented immigrants, is another example of strict policy gone wrong.
Public News Service (PNS) reports that the program has created a climate of fear and weakened communities in Oregon. Latino citizens face the risky dilemma of carrying papers on them at all times. Not doing so could mean detainment or deportation if there is a database error.
Latinos in certain counties said that the program “has had a chilling effect, no matter what their immigration status.”
For instance, workers at domestic abuse shelters say abused women may be left without their papers and many feared being picked up by law enforcement while seeking aid. Shelters routinely get questions from victims about “what types of paperwork will be sufficient to prove a person is in the United States legally,” according to PNS.
PNS interviews Lorena Connelly, a domestic abuse counselor who says that “Most of the Latino community, they don’t carry those documents — because most of the time, people have heard, ‘You know, you better leave your safe papers at home.’ They don’t carry the papers with them.”