Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Immigration Law that Equates Alcoholism with Poor Moral Character

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Immigration Law that Equates Alcoholism with Poor Moral Character

Under federal immigration law, an individual who illegally resides in the U.S. is subject to deportation if authorities catch him or her, or if the individual commits certain crimes, such as driving under the influence. However, there are certain defenses to deportation that may apply in particular circumstances. A recent L.A. Times article details the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to strike down a portion of federal immigration law that made it virtually impossible for an alcoholic individual to fight deportation. Federal immigration law allows the U.S. Attorney General to cancel the deportation of an individual, or to allow him or her to voluntarily leave the U.S., if the individual has good moral character. Historically, however, federal immigration law deems an individual who is a “habitual drunkard” to be of immoral character. The case before the Ninth Circuit involved Salomon Ledezma-Cosino, a Mexican citizen who came to the U.S. illegally in 1997. He has eight children, five of whom are American citizens, and supports his family by working in the construction industry. However, Ledezma-Cosino also is a chronic alcoholic who has acute alcoholic hepatitis and decompensated cirrhosis of the liver, as well as at least one DUI conviction. In considering this case, the Ninth Circuit found that the existing law that equated alcoholism with immoral character violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution. Alcoholism, the majority of the court held in a 2 – 1 decision, is a medical condition, and an inability to stop drinking is an element or characteristic of the condition. The Court’s ruling overturns a 50-year-old immigration law based on attitudes toward morality that are largely outdated. When you or a loved one is facing deportation based on alcoholism or any other reason, Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. is here to help. We care about you, your family, and your ability to remain in the U.S. As a result, our California deportation defense lawyers stand ready to build the strongest possible deportation defense case on your behalf. Contact your Oakland immigration lawyer today and learn how we can advocate for you and your family in your deportation proceedings.
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