Supreme Court takes on issue of deportation of legal immigrants after nonviolent crimes
Two cases involve noncitizens whose guilty pleas on drug charges -- transporting marijuana and possessing one tablet of Xanax -- result in automatic deportation.
Los Angeles Times
By David G. Savage
March 31, 2010 10:48 a.m.
Reporting from Washington - The Supreme Court confronted in two cases Wednesday the stiff federal law that requires deportation of any noncitizen convicted of an "aggravated felony," even if that person has lived in the U.S. legally for decades.The law was designed to capture and remove immigrants who commit violent crimes. Sometimes, however, it results in deporting a legal immigrant who pleads guilty to lesser violations.
In one case, decided Wednesday, the justices gave new hope to a Vietnam veteran from Kentucky who, based on his lawyer's advice, pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana. The lawyer had advised Jose Padilla, a native of Honduras, that he "did not have to worry about his immigration status" since he had lived legally in the United States for 40 years.
That advice was wrong. As soon as Padilla pleaded guilty to the drug charges, federal immigration agents said he was subject to automatic deportation...link to complete article