Global News CA reports
At the time, it must have seemed like a meaningless bureaucratic detail.
Shimon Avta, an Israeli agronomist living in Nevada, was having some U.S. immigration documents notarized and needed photo ID to send with them. The only card he happened to have with him was the ID issued by a Las Vegas medical marijuana company where he was doing work for an Israeli company.
Avta’s situation seemed secure enough. He had a 10-year multiple-entry visa and was married to an American, a woman he met at his synagogue.
And from Nevada’s point of view, what he did for a living was perfectly legal — most U.S. states have some kind of system for legal medical marijuana.
But under U.S. federal law, Avta was a drug trafficker, lucky to escape prosecution.
“He needed some Nevada ID, and all he had was this pass,” explains his lawyer, Ed Prudhomme. “The examiner found this document, which is marijuana employee ID. So they forever barred him as a trafficker.”
On Jan. 6, Avta and Prudhomme went to a meeting at the Las Vegas airport to discuss Avta’s immigration status. Avta found himself on a plane two hours after the meeting ended. He never had a chance to go home.
“I suggested for him to leave the United States rather than being deported,” Prudhomme says. “They were planning to deport him.”
“If my client hadn’t left, deported or otherwise, he could have been charged with a federal offence.”