Court Rules California Marijuana Legalization Does Not Protect Immigrants from Deportation

Immigrants in California can still be deported if they were convicted of a crime involving marijuana before voters approved the legalization of the drug in 2016.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the appeal of Claudia Prado, a woman who was convicted in 2014 of possession of marijuana for sale.

A state court had previously reduced Prado’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor under the new law. She then applied for political asylum, arguing that she should not be removed because she was not guilty of a felony.

The appeals court stated that the federal immigration law does not recognize the state’s decision to reclassify a valid conviction, and noted that the conviction had not been overturned or expunged.

“Because Prado does not challenge the validity of her conviction, it retains its immigration consequences,” the ruling stated.

Additional Resources

Prado v. Barr

Court Rules Immigrants Can Be Deported for Marijuana Crime, U.S. News & World Report, May 10, 2019

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