There are currently two cases at the Supreme Court set for oral argument this month that will have immigration-related implications. The cases generally concern whether a non-citizen (even a permanent resident) can be mandatorily detained and deported for possessing drug paraphernalia. The immigration and Nationality Act broadly authorizes the deportation of noncitizens that find themselves charged with crimes related to a controlled substance. The Supreme Court will address a current circuit split on whether drug paraphernalia itself must be related to a substance listed in the Federal Controlled Substances Act to form the basis of deportation.
The first case, Mellouli v. Holder, addresses the following issue:
Whether, to trigger deportability under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B)(i), which provides that a noncitizen may be removed if he has been convicted of violating “any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of Title 21) . . . ,” the government must prove the connection between a drug paraphernalia conviction and a substance listed in section 802 of the Controlled Substances Act. For more information on Mellouli, please visit the ScotusBlog here.
The second case, Madrigal-Barcenas v. Holder, addresses a very similar issue:
Whether the plain text of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that a noncitizen is ineligible for cancellation of removal if he has been convicted of an offense “relating to a controlled substance,” requires that a drug paraphernalia conviction involve or relate to a controlled substance that is actually listed in the federal schedules of controlled substances in order to render a noncitizen ineligible for cancellation of removal. For more information on Madrigal-Barcenas, please visit the ScotusBlog here.
These cases involve facts that demonstrate how far the government will go in some cases to deport individuals. Mellouli, a lawful permanent resident and holder of two post-graduate degrees, was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of Kansas law. The charge made no reference to controlled substances and would not have been a crime under Federal law or the laws of some other states. Nevertheless, ICE arrested Mellouli and sought to deport him for violating a state law relating to a controlled substance.
Once a decision is handed down by the Supreme Court, we will be sure to keep you updated. If you are in need of a Tulsa immigration lawyer, or have questions relating to how criminal charges can impact immigration, contact our office for a consultation.