Tuesday, March 29, 2016
9th Cir. holds federal immigration law unconstitutionally discriminates against "habitual drunkards" on account of "medical condition"
Late last week, the U.S. 9th Cir. Court of Appeals decided that the federal immigration law classifying "habitual drunkards" as immoral, and therefore ineligible for relief from immediate deportation, is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The LATimes's Maura Dolan explains:
Federal immigration law allows the attorney general to cancel the deportation of a non-citizen or permit the person to depart voluntarily if he or she has good moral character.
Among those the law deems immoral are immigrants who participated in genocide or torture, have been convicted of a serious felony or gambling offenses and who are habitual drunkards.
Salomon Ledezma-Cosino, a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. in 1997, was deemed an “habitual drunkard.”
Medical records show he drank an average of a liter of tequila a day for 10 years. He also has been diagnosed with acute alcoholic hepatitis, decompensated cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism, the court said, and he has at least one conviction for driving under the influence.
Ledezma-Cosino also has eight children — five of them U.S. citizens — and has supported his family by working in the construction industry, the court said.
The majority held that the federal law linking drunkenness with poor moral character violates the equal-protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
The full opinion can be found here.