Immigrants deported on cannabis charges unfairly excluded from Biden pardon, advocates say

Immigration advocates say pardons should also be granted to undocumented immigrants who were not only incarcerated, but also deported on cannabis charges after spending most of their lives working and living in the United States.

This coming week, more than 130 advocacy groups, including the National Immigration Project, say they plan to send a letter to Biden calling for the inclusion of refugees, asylum seekers and visa holders with marijuana convictions.

“​​Moving forward, we urge you to ensure that every step taken to remedy racial injustice includes relief to impacted immigrant communities,” the organizations say they will write. “In particular, we urge you to extend protection to all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, and to take necessary steps to ensure that immigrants do not suffer negative immigration consequences from marijuana convictions.”

The letter follows their 2021 call for a legislative remedy for the 48,000 immigrants who were deported for federal marijuana possession between 2003 and 2020, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

“The pardon explicitly excludes all categories of immigrants except for people who are lawful permanent residents,” Executive Director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya told ABC News. “The [Biden] administration really should be much more actively ensuring that immigrants are not left out of initiatives like this.”


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