American weed laws may be getting more lenient, but that doesn’t mean immigrants can’t still face deportation for cannabis — even miniscule amounts of cannabis, as in the case of teenager Luis Quintana Alvarez.
When Alvarez was an infant, his mother brought him and his siblings to the United States from Mexico. Then, just a year ago, police pulled over Alvarez and his cousin for speeding in Ames, Iowa. They searched the car and found a gram of weed, which is only worth about $10. Now he’s facing deportation.
Though Alvarez said the weed actually belonged to his cousin, he took the blame for it, fearing that otherwise his cousin would be expelled from college. At first, when Alvarez was busted, he was subject only to probation; however his DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status has made things more complicated.
Alvarez’s DACA status made it so the federal government had to get involved. While during the Obama administration, DACA status gave temporary legal status to children whose parents immigrated with them to the United States, now Alvarez’s legal status had been removed.
While those with DACA status can be deemed illegal if they’re convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, according to Alvarez’s attorney, the Immigration and Naturalization Acts exempts weed possession cases for under 30 grams. However, Alvarez’s appeal was denied, even though he was in possession of only a gram of weed.
Now Alvarez’s attorney argues that he could be targeted by Mexican cartels if he’s deported back. This case is even more significant in light of the fact that President Donald Trump last week announced his plans to repeal DACA. The case brings to light the unfortunate intersection between the country’s retrogressive immigration policy and outdated federal cannabis policy.