Advocacy groups ask President Joe Biden to expand cannabis pardons to include more groups

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‘​​Moving forward, we urge you to ensure that every step taken to remedy racial injustice includes relief to impacted immigrant communities’

Advocates are calling for an expansion of President Joe Biden’s cannabis pardon, specifically, one that includes immigrants who have been deported because of these types of offences.

Biden’s pardons affect almost 6,500 Americans. Still, they only affect U.S. residents and citizens.

ABC News reports more than 130 advocacy groups are planning on collaborating on a letter to Biden, asking him to expand the pardons and include refugees, asylum seekers and visa holders with cannabis convictions.

“​​Moving forward, we urge you to ensure that every step taken to remedy racial injustice includes relief to impacted immigrant communities,” notes a draft of the letter. “In particular, we urge you to extend protection to all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, and to take necessary steps to ensure that immigrants do not suffer negative immigration consequences from marijuana convictions.”

Per the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, over 48,000 immigrants were deported for cannabis possession between 2003 and 2020.

When asked for comment, the White House replied: “The president’s full, unconditional pardon is the first categorical pardon in 45 years and will bring relief to thousands of Americans, disproportionately Black and brown, who are unfairly barred from housing, employment and benefits,” said assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz. He did not address the topic of immigrants directly.

New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talked about Biden’s pardon and shared her objections regarding the exclusion of undocumented people. “And, even recently with President Biden’s marijuana executive order, I very much applauded that he went there, but he exempted people if they were convicted while they were undocumented,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“That is 90 per cent. We’re looking at the overwhelming majority of people who have been convicted that would benefit from that pardon, they have status complications,” she said. “We really need to step up, both in our efforts on campaigning but also our efforts in governance.”

Region: United States

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