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Weekly Diaspora: Supreme Court Decision Protects Immigrants Targeted By Drug War

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by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger:

This week, the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1996 law that made it possible to deport documented immigrants that were convicted of minor drug-possession. Finally, some good news. At RaceWire, Seth Freed Wessler explains that the ruling could drastically change a law which has “helped drive rising deportation numbers.”

The plaintiff was Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, a legal permanent resident who came to the United States in 1983 when he was five years old. A lower court had ruled that Carachuri-Rosendo “was subject to mandatory deportation under the 1996 law as a result of two minor drug-possession offenses, one for marijuana and the other for a single tablet of Xanax, an anti-anxiety prescription drug often used recreationally.”

Since the 1990s, several laws with increasingly severe penalties for immigrants have passed. Until the most recent Supreme Court decision, all resulted in mandatory deportation.

Starving students

On another front, DREAM Act supporters held a 10-day hunger strike in the DC office of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week. The activists demanded that the legislator move forward with the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth who were 15 years old or younger when their parents brought them to the United States.

New America Media notes that at a subsequent rally in Manhattan, the “hunger strikers and students at the rally criticized [Schumer], chairman of the Senate immigration subcommittee, who has the power to move the DREAM Act forward.”

Schumer, once considered a champion of immigrants rights and a lead negotiator in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform this year, is facing harsh criticism from the immigrant rights community for failing to deliver on reform or back the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill.