Nine congressional representatives sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday, asking him to extend a recent marijuana amnesty measure to immigrants with citizenship status issues. They also urge him to press ahead with cannabis reform, saying decriminalization or descheduling should be “prioritized”.
The letter — led by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Choy Garcia (D-IL) — also calls on Biden to reopen immigration cases for the tens of thousands of people who’ve been deported for petty marijuana possession offenses.
The lawmakers wrote that the president’s clemency measure “is an essential step in our country’s promise of justice for all.” Therefore, it is so important to forgive management All Minor marijuana possession offenses – regardless of immigration status. ”
Today we led a message with @tweet Asking the President to pardon all minor offenses of marijuana possession, regardless of immigration status and to reopen immigration cases for those deported for marijuana-related offenses.
You can read the full letter here. pic.twitter.com/ZKPARuMGvp
Representative Ilhan Omar November 15, 2022
“The use of the pardon power is a constitutional necessity and a critical tool in correcting the worsening racial injustices of brutal drug policies,” they said. “However, continuing to deport immigrants solely for possession of marijuana will only exacerbate racial disparities, traumatize families and communities vital to the fabric of this country, and create ineffective legal systems at taxpayer expense.”
Formerly Ocasio-Cortez Urge expansion of pardons for Biden, stressing the importance of a Democratic party that proactively advocates for Latino communities, including immigrant populations. Part of that, she said, means enacting sweeping policies, which have been a missing ingredient in the president’s mass cannabis pardons.
According to a 2016 US Sentencing Commission (USCC) report, 92 percent of federal marijuana possession cases in fiscal 2013 occurred at the southern border of the United States, and 94 percent of those people were not US citizens. These stats have changed from year to year, but nonetheless they speak to a broader trend in federal enforcement.
After decades of a failed war on drugs and the countless lives and families it has destroyed, our country must begin to repair that damage. message Says. “Granting pardons to all minor offenses of marijuana possession—regardless of immigration status—shows genuine compassion while ensuring that our country continues to mitigate the inhumane and ineffective drudgery policies that have so long devastated communities of color.”
However, for immigrants whose lives are turned upside down by simple marijuana possession, amnesty is only the first step in allowing them to rebuild their lives. That’s why we also urge you to prioritize decriminalizing and descheduling marijuana and reopening immigration cases for those deported for marijuana-related offenses. These actions will restore the lives and dignity of thousands of immigrants deported for behavior now legal in various capacities across 41 countries. In addition, following these measures will allow these same people to return to their families and their lives in the United States.”
Biden has campaigned to decriminalize cannabis possession, but he still opposes federal legalization, which descheduling would achieve. However, along with the pardon, he directed an administrative review of marijuana scheduling last month that could theoretically reinstate a recommendation to cancel scheduling.
The letter to the President concludes, “We commend the work your administration has done in focusing marginalized communities and their needs as they reflect on executive actions and pardon power.” “We urge you to extend these efforts to immigrants so that they have the same opportunities that you have provided to others.”
Earlier this month, more than 130 immigration and civil rights organizations sent a letter to Biden, asking him to likewise extend the declaration of amnesty for marijuana possession. To anyone regardless of immigration status.
The impact of Biden’s mass pardon About 6,500 people have committed marijuana possession crimes At the federal level, as well as those who broke the law in Washington, D.C., but activists argued that It should also be extended to people like immigrants and those with sell-out convictions.
Activists with Students for a Reasonable Drugs Policy (SSDP), The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) and the DCMJ Protests were held outside the White House last month To draw attention to this issue, calling on Biden to release the 2,800 people currently in federal prison for marijuana convictions that are not limited to simple possession.
Whereas Biden He has repeatedly promoted cannabis clemencysaying at one point that he had “changed the lives of thousands of people,” he pointed out forcefully He is unwilling to provide more comfort For those with sales convictions.
Meanwhile, the drug czar is in the White House Recently cheered Biden’s “historic” move To issue a mass marijuana pardon and direct an administrative review of the drug’s scheduling status. He again highlights that there are “clear” medical benefits to cannabis – which he says should not be ignored because of separate concerns about youth use.
With the Department of Justice and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Committed to executing discrete scheduling review quickly The president’s directive, which could result in a recommendation to put cannabis on a lower schedule or eliminate it altogether, effectively legalizing the plant under federal law.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said Officials will “work as quickly as possible” to complete the analysis To schedule cannabis as directed by the Chief.
For its part, a Department of Justice spokesperson said, “It will urgently administer the President’s proclamation, pardoning individuals who simply participated in marijuana possession, restoring political, civil, and other rights to those convicted of this crime.”
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said officials will work diligently to ensure that people who have been granted amnesties for federal marijuana offenses under the presidential proclamation Do not prevent them from getting job opportunities in the future.
Vice President Kamala Harris said last month that voters should elect lawmakers who support marijuana reform so Congress can adopt a “unified approach” to the issue. In light of the president’s pardon of cannabis.
A series of opinion polls have shown that Americans She strongly supports the President’s decision to pardonNor do they believe marijuana should be federally classified as a Schedule I drug.