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National Immigration Project Calls on President Biden to Include All Immigrants in Marijuana Conviction Pardons

Issue area
Crimes/Post-Conviction Relief
Posted: Oct. 6, 2022

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2022

Arianna Rosales, National Immigration Project,

Washington, DC - Today President Biden pardoned thousands of people who were convicted on federal charges of simple possession of marijuana from 1992 to 2021. While these pardons are long overdue and necessary, they regrettably fail to protect many immigrants from negative implications of marijuana-related activities on their immigration status. The President must take the further step of ensuring that people do not suffer immigration consequences because of marijuana convictions.

In June of 2021, the National Immigration Project led a letter signed by nearly 200 immigration, criminal justice, and civil rights organizations urging the Biden administration to include all immigrants in the pardon process. The letter highlights that immigration is a racial justice issue and calls for consideration of immigration consequences from the get-go. While this move is a step in the right direction, the President must ensure that everyone can benefit from this pardon, and Congress should act immediately to pass legislation to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act and to address immigration consequences for marijuana-related activity.

Said Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project:

"For decades, the failed War on Drugs has targeted Black and brown communities. Today's pardons are a welcome move that begins to recognize the devastating harms marijuana convictions have had on communities of color. While we are glad to see President Biden taking concrete steps to address some of these consequences, we are grimly disappointed that it does not extend to immigrants who were undocumented and urge him to ensure that all immigrants are included in the pardon process.

"We also urge the President to ensure that immigrants who do receive a pardon do not continue to suffer immigration consequences as a result of pardoned convictions. Beyond the already harsh criminal consequences of marijana convictions, immigrants are additionally punished through draconian penalties including detention, deportation, and family separation-even in states where marijuana use has been decriminalized and in many cases even after a pardon is granted. Hundreds of thousands of people have been deported because of marijuana possession convictions.

"President Biden must connect the dots and ensure that all immigrants can benefit equally from these pardons, and must ensure that people who receive a pardon do not continue to experience immigration consequences such as detention and deportation as a result of marijuana convictions. At the National Immigration Project, we will continue working with impacted people and our partners towards a day when no person is harmed by the insidious entanglement of our immigration and criminal legal systems."

The National Immigration Project is a member of the Marijuana Justice Coalition, a broad coalition of national advocacy organizations led by the Drug Policy Alliance who have joined forces to advocate for federal marijuana reform through a racial and economic lens. The National Immigration Project has been a national leader in legal education, analysis, and technical assistance on the immigration consequences of drug-related convictions, and has advocated to ensure that noncitizens are included in marijana decriminalization efforts.


The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) is a national non-profit organization that provides technical assistance and support to community-based immigrant organizations, legal practitioners, and all advocates seeking and working to advance the rights of noncitizens. NIPNLG utilizes impact litigation, advocacy, and public education to pursue its mission. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on social media: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild on Facebook, @NIPNLG on Twitter and Instagram.