Supreme Court Reviews Drug Deportation Policy

The United States Supreme Court is set to review a challenge to federal laws that allow non U.S. citizens to be deported for minor drug offenses, the New York Times reported March 31. 

Under current federal law, legal immigrants living in the U.S. can face long-term imprisonment and/or deportation for minor drug charges: two convictions for drug-related crime is equated to an “aggravated felony” for drug trafficking, regardless of the severity of the offense.

For example, Jerry Lemaine, a New York resident, spent three years in a Texas prison and still faces the possibility of deportation for possession of a single marijuana cigarette in combination with a dismissed charge from when he was a teenager.  The New York court considers the latter conviction expunged, but Texas upheld it.

The federal Board of Immigration Appeals has ruled against this severe interpretation of the law, but two circuit courts have confirmed the practice. Government officials often transfers suspects to states  such as Texas that fall under these courts’ jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court began hearing the case, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, on March 31.

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