On Wednesday, July 7th, the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to President Biden asking him to take another look at certain deportation cases, including ones pertaining to cannabis. The letter emphasized how deportations disproportionately impact people of color and strongly urged the president to use his executive authority to reopen these cases to be reevaluated and reversed. This memo was signed by 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, led by Rep. Mondaire Jones(D-NY) saying, “one critical step toward honoring that commitment is ensuring that people who were unjustly deported can be fairly and efficiently considered for return to their families and communities in the United States.”
The legislators made note of a slew of deportation cases that they felt were unjustly detrimental towards immigrants. The letter also asked Biden to consider stories like U.S. veteran Howard Bailey and long-time U.S. resident Kenault Lawrence. Both were deported to Jamaica over, “years-old marijuana convictions” and, “Howard served nearly four years in the U.S. Navy, including two tours in Operation Desert Storm, and received the National Defense Service Medal. Nevertheless, he was deported based on an old, first-time marijuana offense that the governor of Virginia subsequently pardoned,” wrote the Black Caucus Members.
Bailey’s situation was similar; he sent a letter pleading that his case be reconsidered as he was arrested after marijuana packaging containing cannabis was sent to his house for his friend. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used that one marijuana infraction to initiate a deportation process. Bailey is also a U.S. veteran.
As stated by the memorandum, “despite these clear injustices and compelling reasons to return both men to the United States, neither Howard nor Kenault have a meaningful chance to return home.” Cannabis reform has also made matters difficult for immigrants, as states become recreationally acceptable. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, immigrants risk deportation even in states where the plant is legal (even if they have medical reasons to ingest cannabis).