Migrant rights and drug policy groups are calling for the halt to deportation and use of discretion in the developing story of migrants being released under sentencing reform.
In recent weeks the Department of Justice announced retroactive reforms by the sentencing commission that reduces prison terms for people convicted of drug offenses. While it was received as a positive step forward in correcting the damage done by Drug War policies and officials such as Loretta Lynch expressed hope that those released would be ‘re-integrated into society,’ those immigrant and undocumented individuals to be released under the reform won’t be offered that chance, instead they face prolonged detention and deportation as they are transferred to ICE custody instead of being released back to their communities.
EFE reports that 42% of the 1,789 immigrants affected under the reform already have an order of deportation against them while the other half will be transferred to three different detention centers under ICE custody to await a judge’s ruling.
Marisa Franco, Director of the #Not1More campaign, reacted, “It’s absurd to see something meant to reduce the harm of Drug War policy being used to fuel the war of attrition against immigrants in this country. They’re being released from one system of punishment directly into the hands of another. It lays bare how current deportation policy is built off of the discriminatory over-policing of communities of color.”
When the story first broke, Franco co-authored an op-ed with Jeronimo Saldaña of the Drug Policy Alliance raising the issue: “Are criminal justice reforms and immigration policy at odds.”