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Supreme Court Rules: No More Deportation for Minor Drug Offenses

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.

Starving students

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?

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.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 


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photo credit: thanks to Torben Bjørn Hansen via flickr 
by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

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74 comments

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8:21AM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

Remember the court only takes on cases where there is a dispute within the lower courts. The courts tend to be extremely conservative in their opinions because their ruling will effect everyone in the U.S. and not just the plantiff. The idea of deporting someone who has been in the U.S. for years to a country where they may have no relationships still is outrageous. The court made the right decision

5:19PM PDT on Jul 27, 2010

We need stiffer laws (and to ENFORCE current laws) to deter those from using drugs. Xanax may be considered a recreational drug by some but should not be used recreationally. Drugs are an attempt at escape. Face your problems and solve them not temp escape. They really need to make it harder for those that make money in the drug industry. The legal drug industry and illegal drug industry.

6:07PM PDT on Jul 1, 2010

Documented individuals in the U.S. should absolutely be afforded the same rights, privileges, and protections as anyone else. Deportation for them for a "minor drug offense" is absurd. The hypocrisy is maddening. How great that the law has been overturned.

However, the issue of presenting "papers" on the power-tripping whim of Johnny Law smacks of fascism and racisim. Didn't the Holocaust start this way?!

12:32PM PDT on Jun 27, 2010

..ahem... rofl @ me me me..

Mi Hill takes a chillax pill.. and steps calmly down from rickety soapbox.. ;]]]

12:15PM PDT on Jun 27, 2010

I CHALLENGE all those speaking out IN IGNORANCE proclaiming implied costs and burdens to their taxes to actually research and FINALLY DISCOVER THE TRUTH that the LIES THAT ILLEGAL ALIENS CREATE HUGE TAX BURDENS is so old and tired AND UNTRUE! P E R I O D!!

Also; PLEASE NOTE THAT the globes most astute with the documented AND PROVEN knowledge about the globes finances HAVE PROVEN DECADES BACK THAT THE DEVELOPED NATIONS WITH THE MOST OPEN BORDERS ARE THE RICHEST AND STABLEST ECONOMIES..
P E R I O D!!!

The HATE MONGERS promote illegal alien BLAME for lack of the REAL ISSUES this nation NEEDS TO DEAL WITH!

THE TRUE COSTS | TAX BURDENS ON USA COFFERS BY
TRULY ILLEGAL ALIENS (a tiny minority btw!!) IS MOOT compared to some of our nations REAL PROBLEMS!

PLEASE STOP TAKING FOX NEWS AND SUCH BLATHERING REDNECK IGNORANCE AS FACT as your excuse to HATE OTHERS WITH SO MUCH LESS THAN OUR POOREST OF THE POOR "documented USA Citizens".

HOW FAST WE FORGET USA..

C H E A T E D the rest of the world OFF THE BACKS OF THE..
R E A L ! ORIGINAL NATIVE AMERICANS that SUFFERED HORRID (USA hidden textbooks HIDDEN) HOLOCAUSTS and...
S L A V E S ! I L L E G A L L Y PURCHASED AND FORCIBLY SHIPPED TO OUR ahem....
GREAT '''CHRISTIAN NATION!?!''' and subjected to further WHITE MEN's HORRORS! and..
I M M A 'G R U N T S' SUBJECTED TO FURTHER HORRORS FOR THERE HELP '''CHEATING''' THIS NATION TO GREATNESS!!

..and now such tards that SHOULD BE HUMBLY APOLOGIZING TO THE GLOBE FOR TH

10:37AM PDT on Jun 27, 2010

OI EH VAY... ANYone ever bother to check FACTCHECK.org or any of a number of FACT BASED sites for the REAL STATS SHOWING THE HATE MONGER'ers casting stones for LIES!?

hello??.....

7:05PM PDT on Jun 26, 2010

ty

5:57PM PDT on Jun 26, 2010

thanks for posting

12:17PM PDT on Jun 26, 2010

(con't.) Moreover, the "war on drugs" is and always has been an abject failure. Millions of dollars are wasted every single year on drugs, which use are growing exponentially. The only real success has been in creating a new industry - drug cartels. The organized crime from their activities is spilling over into our country, and it is doing serious damage to our nation. The prohibition of these in-demand drugs will never fare any better than that the proscription against alcohol did in the last century. It is time that we stop trying to fight the unwinnable. This nation has far more serious issues, than to prop up drug cartels by making those drugs illegal and providing a profit motive for them.

As for the young man whose case is mentioned in this article, far more damage is done every day of the week through the use of alcohol and tobacco, than with the few paultry things that were in his possession. Moreover, if every single US citizen, who is at this very moment in possession of the tiny amount of drugs that he was, would be arrested, we would have to start building a lot more prisons, because we do not have enough to contain all such offenders. You would be surprised at the amount and types of illicit drugs used by lawyers, doctors, and even judges. These offenses are largely ignored. We cannot have one standard for one set of people and another for everyone else.

Deport the drug dealers and smugglers. This young man was neither. Nor was he illegal.

11:56AM PDT on Jun 26, 2010

Although I am ADAMANTLY opposed to the presence of illegal aliens in the US, I agree with the decision of the Court in this SPECIFIC case. In the first place, this case involved a person, who was in this country LEGALLY. That fact, alone, makes a big difference to me.

Secondly, application of the law at issue to the facts of this PARTICULAR case could not possibly have been what the lawmakers intended when they passed this law.

This person had a very small amount of marijuana and a single xanax tablet on his person when he was arrested. Big deal! I do not smoke anything of any kind - nor have I ever. Nevertheless, even I can see the unreasonableness and the potential for discrimination in attempting to deport anyone for possessing a small amount marijuana. (As an aside, illicit drug use is EVERYWHERE on this planet. Those, who think otherwise, are only kidding themselves or living in denial.) Any law targeting a drug, which is in such widespread use and which is found on the person only in a small amount, is not REALLY targeting the drug. It is targeting the PERSON, a particular TYPE of person. That should be evident. One can find more drugs than what this defendant possessed at any rock concert. However, we do not see mass arrests at concerts. Why not? Why THIS person? The US cannot tolerate such unequal application of its laws.

I agree that anyone caught drug smuggling or dealing, whether legal or not, should be deported immediately.

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