Months ago we wrote about how driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an unfortunate and easy way to derail immigration dreams – not only for undocumented folks and DACA grantees but even for permanent residents.
There have been many cases of people without a previous criminal record being put in jail because of the aftereffects of a weekend party.
Immigrants need to be aware that the legal system is not on their side in these matters and that citizens experience a different legal environment regarding these infractions. For immigrants, DUIs and other similar charges have life-altering consequences.
Do not imitate citizens’ behavior when alcohol and drugs are in the mix.
If you are an immigrant, you do not even need to be charged with a felony to be in danger of deportation. Even significant misdemeanors can pose a threat. Significant misdemeanor is defined as “a local, state or federal criminal offense that carries a jail term ranging from five days to one year, pertaining to the distribution or trafficking of drugs, domestic violence, sexual exploitation or abuse, burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Moreover, any other type of misdemeanor in which the individual received a jail sentence of 90 days or more is defined as a significant misdemeanor.
Even one misdemeanor conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can kill your immigrant dreams.
Making this situation worse, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences in a revival of the “war on drugs.”
What is a mandatory minimum sentence? Mandatory minimum sentencing requires “binding prison terms of a particular length for people convicted of certain federal and state crimes.” This inflexible and pre-established sentencing prevents judges from considering other factors that can ameliorate the punishment.
Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately criminalize people of color, especially immigrants. The law ensures immigrants are penalized so harshly they cannot attain immigration benefits in the future and are put on the path to deportation.
First and foremost, DO NOT DRINK OR DO DRUGS AND DRIVE. If you are experiencing problems with the law, contact an immigration attorney with ample knowledge of the intersection of criminal law and immigration immediately to review your options.