9th Circuit Says Immigrants Cannot Be Deported For Expunged Drug Offenses 8/4/00

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San Francisco, CA: The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned an Immigration and Naturalization Service policy that had required the deportation of legal immigrants for any drug offense, including the simple possession of marijuana.

The appeals court ruled that immigrants convicted for the first time of minor drug crimes cannot be deported if their convictions have been expunged under the Federal First Offender Act, or a similar state expungement statute. For example, expungement is offered in California for first-time drug offenders who complete probation without violating its conditions, including passing random drug tests and drug rehabilitation.

The case involved immigrants from Arizona and Idaho whose drug convictions were expunged under their respective state laws, but who faced deportation in 1997 when the INS argued that the expungement protections were eliminated by a 1997 federal immigration law. The appeals court, in a unanimous decision written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, stated that Congress failed to "provide any indication in the immigration statute that the new law was intended to displace the Federal First Offender Act."

"As there is no rational basis for a federal statute that treats persons adjudged guilty of a drug offense under state law more harshly than persons adjudged guilty of the identical offense under federal law, the petitioners may not be deported for their first-time simple drug possession offenses," Reinhardt wrote.

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Issue #148, 8/4/00 The Shadow Convention: Drug Reformers Flex Muscles in Philadelphia | Canadian Appeals Court Calls Marijuana Laws Unconstitutional, Ottawa Must Act or Marijuana Could Be Legal in Ontario Next Year | Police Chiefs Call for National Commission on Criminal Justice Issues: Cite Lack of Trust, Corruption, Police Violence, Racial Profiling | A Barrel Full of Bad Apples: Police Corruption and the War on Drugs | Salt Lake City Mayor "Just Says No" to DARE | Follow That Story: Clinton Sets Juan Raul Garza Execution Date | From Real Life: Lawrence and Lamont Garrison | US Justice Department Petitions Supreme Court to Overturn OCBC Ruling | 9th Circuit Says Immigrants Cannot Be Deported For Expunged Drug Offenses | AlertS: Colombia, Mandatory Minimums, California, New York, Washington | HEA Campaign | Event Calendar | Washington, DC Job Opportunity for Public Interest Attorney, Other Positions | Editorial: Whitman's Victim
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