20 Oct 2022 Breaking News! Biden Pardons Immigrants With Marijuana Convictions
On October 6, 2022, President Biden issued a proclamation granting pardons for the offense of simple possession of marijuana, where he has pardoned certain people with convictions for possession of marijuana. This would be of great benefit to many noncitizens.
- Who is eligible or covered by this pardon?
- Who is not eligible for this pardon?
- How would this pardon affect a non-citizen’s immigration situation?
Let’s get straight to the answers:
The people eligible for this pardon are United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. As the proclamation states, President Biden grants “a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (1) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.” The pardon “shall restore them to full political, civil, and other rights.”
This pardon does not apply to people who are out of status, as a proclamation states, “This pardon does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense.”
The pardon applies only to the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of federal law, and not to any other offenses related to marijuana or other controlled substances. Please note that the person had to have been charged and convicted under federal law, not state law. Therefore, if you have a state conviction, you would need a pardon from the governor.
The pardon covers only the crime or offense of simple possession of marijuana. If a person was convicted of any other marijuana offense, such as sale, trafficking, etc., this pardon would not apply. The pardon also would not apply to any other drug offense, such as shabu, etc.
This proclamation also indicates that the Attorney General, through the Pardon Attorney, will start issuing certificates of pardon to eligible applicants who have been charged or convicted of simple possession of marijuana.
President Biden stated that one of the reasons behind this pardon is that, “There are thousands of people with prior federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.” The president is also having the Sec. of Health and Human Services reevaluate how marijuana is classified as a controlled substance, as it is currently in the same category as heroin, fentanyl, and LSD. If marijuana were reclassified as not being so dangerous, it would help so many others whose immigration cases are affected by a marijuana conviction.
If you or someone you know is a noncitizen and was convicted under federal law of simple possession of marijuana, you may want to consult with an attorney to evaluate your eligibility for this full pardon. The attorney could assist in getting a certificate of pardon, and clearing your name. This could affect people’s ability to naturalize, because if an lawful permanent resident (LPR) is convicted of certain crimes, it may affect your application for naturalization.
This is still a developing story, as more details need to come out on how to avail of this presidential pardon and its effects. We also need to have the government reclassify marijuana, as in many states it is now legal.
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