Los Angeles County District Attorney Backs Off Hardline Stance on Immigration and Marijuana Offenses

According to reporting from The Daily Beast, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has reversed her office’s harsh stance of fighting immigration protections for individuals previously convicted of minor drug offenses, including marijuana-related offenses. In this article, our Los Angeles immigration lawyer explains the change in policy and the potential implications for immigrants charged with minor drug-related crimes in Southern California. 

A Quirk in California Law Punished Immigrants

The issue at stake here revolves around a quick in California’s penal code. Under a section of state law, non-American citizens were at risk of being denied immigration protections—potentially even facing outright deportation—for relatively minor drug offenses. This despite the fact that the individuals in question had already had their offense vacated through the Deferred Entry of Judgement (DEJ) program. 

In other words, immigrants who were convicted of minor drug offenses were still subject to deportation even though they were permitted to enter a drug treatment program and have the offense itself wholly vacated under California law. Entry into such a program nullified the conviction for criminal law purposes, but it did not nullify it for the purposes of immigration law. 

Los Angeles County DA’s Office Will Reverse Its Hardline Position

In the fall of 2018, a man’s immigration case went before a judge in Los Angeles County. The man in question—an immigrant who was also a DACA recipient—completed a pre-trial diversion program for a minor drug offense back in 2014. As such, all criminal matters related to his case were already vacated under California law. 

However, because of the aforementioned quirk in the law, the immigration issue remained. Essentially, the Los Angeles County DA’s Office was actively trying to prevent an immigration judge from signing off on this man’s adjustment of status petition on the grounds that he had previously been convicted of a now-vacated minor drug offense. 

In a sudden reversal of her office’s previous position, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey states that her office will no longer oppose immigration protections for people who have been charged with minor drug offenses and who have already had all related convictions vacated after entering and completing a pre-trial diversion program. It is very much a positive and welcome change for both fairness and immigrant rights. When an immigrant agrees to enter into and complete a diversion program instead of fighting a criminal charge, it should not be held against them in future immigration proceedings or otherwise deprive them of their rights. 

Call Our Los Angeles, CA Immigration Attorney Right Away

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our Los Angeles immigration lawyers are strong, committed advocates for our clients. We have the skills and experience needed to handle complex immigration law matters. If you have questions about marijuana offenses and immigration, we are here to help. Call us now for a confidential case evaluation. With an office in Los Angeles, we represent clients all over the region.