Feds Now Deporting Legal Immigrants Convicted of Nonviolent Drug Crimes
Perhaps because they’ve run out of illegal immigrants to deport, the feds have shifted focus to the legal ones. Specifically, those who at one time or another were convicted of a crime – regardless of whether or not they paid their debt to society. Most recently, a Miami woman stopped on her way back from visiting family in Nicaragua. The feds stopped her at customs and informed her that she had been convicted of a drug crime two decades ago. Then they sent her to a detention center.
In 1997, Fanny Lorenzo was convicted alongside her husband for growing marijuana in their home. Lorenzo cooperated with authorities and was sentenced to 5 years probation. Afterward, Lorenzo bought a home and raised her son. She stayed out of trouble with the law the entire time.
After stopping Lorenzo at the border, the feds let her stay in the U.S., but weeks later, they revoked her green card and forced her into a detention center. Lorenzo is one of a growing number of legal immigrants who are being targeted by the current administration’s hardline stance on immigration. Even those with clean criminal records over the past 20 years could find themselves being faced with punitive deportation for crimes they’ve already served their time for.
Policy Began under Obama Administration
While Trump’s hardline rhetoric has gobbled up the majority of the headlines, the strategy of targeting legal immigrants with criminal records began under Obama. In tandem with the Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration focused on the removal of legal immigrants with prior convictions.
Obama stated that the policy was aimed at weeding out felons from the U.S. but many of those who are facing deportation have been convicted of routine drug crimes or have a history of addiction. Even when these crimes are well in the past, the Trump policy of revoking citizenship takes the Obama-era policy one step further.
What Sorts of Crimes Can You Be Deported For?
It’s unclear, at this point, if there are any crimes that you can’t be deported for. Trump has floated the idea of deporting immigrants who use public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, or anything else. With that in mind, a mere possession charge, regardless of how serious the offense is, could mean deportation for those with green cards.
Statistically speaking, a large percentage of legal immigrants who were deported were not convicted of felonies at all. They were convicted of misdemeanor drug offenses or less. Human Rights Watch came out with a report showing numerous occasions on which otherwise peaceful immigrants have been deported based only on a prior possession charge.
The reality of the Obama-era rules falls well short of Obama’s supposed aims. Now the initiatives have been co-opted by a hardline administration bent on purging the U.S. of “bad hombres”. The reality, however, is that families are being destroyed in the process.
Have You Been Accused of a Drug Crime?
If you’re an immigrant, your citizenship may be on the line. The West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at the office of Scott Skier P.A. help criminal defendants get a fair trial under the law. We’ve managed high profile murder trials and routine DWIs. If you have been accused of a crime, give us a call at (561) 820-1508 or contact us online, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.