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The National Immigrant Justice Center contributed to an amicus brief in Lopez v. Gonzales, in which the Supreme Court decided that a state felony drug possession offense does not constitute an aggravated felony under immigration law.
The Supreme Court came to the common sense conclusion that simple drug possession is not equal to drug trafficking and that to treat these offenses as equivalent would be fundamentally unfair. Non-citizens convicted of certain crimes classified as aggravated felonies, such as drug trafficking, are deportable and are not eligible for any waivers or forms of relief, including asylum.
The ruling allows immigration judges to exercise greater discretion in determining whether immigrants with past minor drug convictions who face deportation are eligible for a waiver. Immigrants - many of whom have spent years in the United States raising families and contributing to our communities and economy - will no longer be unfairly subject to the punishment of deportation solely because they made a bad decision in their past that resulted in a minor drug conviction. The Supreme Court's ruling will help to level the playing field, giving these immigrants the opportunity to demonstrate rehabilitation and protecting them from banishment and separation from family members.
Read the Supreme Court decision, 549 U.S. 47 (2006).