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Supreme Court Considers Drug Deportations

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard the case of a Texas man deported over minor drug convictions. If he wins, some Illinois residents ordered out of the country could get another day in court.

Mexican-born José Angel Carachuri-Rosendo had been a lawful U.S. resident for more than a decade. The feds deported him after convictions for possessing an anti-anxiety pill without a required prescription and a small amount of marijuana. That’s because the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, sees a pair of drug misdemeanors as a basis for deportation.

The only other appellate court with that view is the Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago. The National Immigrant Justice Center says at least eight Illinois residents ordered out of the country have similar cases before the Supreme Court. The center says that’s more than any other state.

“The person just automatically has to be deported without regard to whether they’re a veteran, without regard to their family or their kids or their spouse or their parents,” says Chuck Roth, the center’s litigation director. He wants lawful permanent residents with minor drug convictions to be able to ask an immigration judge for mercy.

But President Barack Obama’s administration Wednesday told the Supreme Court that Congress meant to get tougher on all drug offenses. The ruling is expected by June.

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