Three US senators beg the secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security to reopen a case on a military veteran deported on a marijuana conviction.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, the senators said the deportation by the Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) was contrary to the nature of the conviction, the precedent of the Supreme Court and the principles of the Biden government. They asked the officer “to give him humanitarian parole so he can return to the United States.”
It has been more than 20 years since Navy veteran Howard Bailey was arrested after a package of marijuana was sent to his home for a friend and he pleaded guilty on the advice of his lawyer. He announced the conviction when he later applied for citizenship, and ICE used this single cannabis offense as a basis to initiate deportation proceedings.
In 2017, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) pardoned Bailey “in view of his service to the US Navy and the increasing decriminalization of marijuana nationwide,” according to the letter from Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) says.
Since then, Virginia has legalized marijuana for adult use, and that law went into effect Thursday. Bailey, who currently resides in Jamaica, told the Washington Post that he was not dulled by the political divide and wanted people to benefit from the reform.
“To see someone smile, to see someone drop a load, that’s a good thing,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s anything that can help me.”
Thinking about the decade-long arrest, he said, “ICE grabbed me and it didn’t matter that my 11-year-old daughter came out screaming and crying. My wife asked them to give me pants to wear before they took me away as I was in my pajama shorts. “
The senators’ letter continues: “The Biden government is committed to honoring family unity and eliminating racial injustices wherever possible. The repatriation of Mr. Bailey to the US, given his overwhelmingly positive stocks and the injustice of his deportation, honors these priorities and is a small step towards restoring humanity to the US immigration system. “
“We urge you to join his motion to resume his immigration process and grant his request for humanitarian parole,” they said.
In a recent House-approved spending bill that allocates funding for DHS for fiscal year 2022, there is a provision that would prevent related authorities from denying personal immigration services or protection, or from punishing them in a motion for just allowing them to do so Have used cannabis or convicted of a minor marijuana offense.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a person who admits to using cannabis – even in accordance with a state’s laws – is morally unsuitable for citizenship. The agency clarified that position in a 2019 memo, adding that employment in a state-legal marijuana market is another factor that could affect a person’s immigration status.
Standalone laws were put in place at this session to resolve the issue, but action has yet to be taken.
The new letter goes on to explain that the DHS issued a memo in May expressly encouraging ICE attorneys to join immigration retrial requests in circumstances where “an individual is entitled to discharge under the law and discharge at its discretion earned”. This is clearly the case with Bailey, they said.
“As the Secretary of Homeland Security, you have the power under applicable law to grant humanitarian parole in cases such as Mr. Bailey’s where there is an urgent humanitarian concern and significant public benefit,” the Senators wrote.
Read the letter to DHS on the marijuana immigration case below:
DHS marijuana immigration l… from marijuana moment
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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.
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