California immigrants facing deportation because of drug offenses could get a reprieve, under a new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Under current U.S. law, a conviction for simple drug possession can have serious consequences for immigrants with or without legal documentation.
“That can make them deportable. It can mean that they had very few defenses,” says Helen Lawrence, an immigration attorney in Oakland. “So it really had pretty draconian impacts on largely law-abiding non-citizens.”
The new California law would ease that process. Immigrants with drug charges could retract their guilty pleas after attending rehab, allowing their cases to be dismissed.