US Resident with DACA Status Denied Re-Entry to US
Can Telling The Truth About Past Cannabis Use Hurt Your Immigration Case?
Jose Palomar, a 26 year old resident of California with DACA status, traveled to Mexico for a brief visit to fulfill the final requirements for his Green Card application. He believed that the trip would be a brief one resulting in a Green Card, however, during a physical he was asked about drug use. Believing that it was in his best interest Palomar answered truthfully, he had smoked marijuana in the past. Palomar’s answer led to his application being halted and he was ruled as inadmissible. Now, he is facing an indefinite amount of time in Mexico.
Palomar has lived in the US since he was 6 and does not speak fluent Spanish. He applied for and was granted DACA status which he has kept up to date by filing appropriate paperwork. His DACA status has allowed him to legally work in the US and pay taxes on the income he earned. Palomar is married to an American citizen, Christine Palomar, and has two American children with her as well as acting as a step-father to Christine’s two older children. Before taking his trip to Mexico, Palomar quit smoking weed because his wife did not support the practice even though it was legal in California. He tested himself repeatedly and, according to Christine, the results were negative. Despite this, his doctor during his physical determined that he was an addict – it is unclear if this was based on drug tests or simply the admission that he used to smoke weed- effectively halting Palomar’s quest to citizenship.
What Does the Law Regarding Smoking Cannabis Mean For Me?
Unfortunately, Palomar’s story is not the only of its kind and many immigrants to the US are being caught in similar situations. Despite the fact the marijuana can be legally consumed in 33 states including the District of Columbia for medicinal purposes and 11 states for recreation, the federal laws surrounding immigration have not recognized this shift. The use of weed, even twenty years in the past, can be grounds for inadmissibility. This has led to confusion among immigrants, especially those living in states where weed is legal about how they can continue to meet the requirements of their particular immigration status.
Legal officials in San Francisco have warned that immigrants should avoid smoking, working in stores that dispense the drug, wearing clothing that could be perceived as pro-cannabis and carrying a medical marijuana card on your person. Even US citizens that hope to sponsor family members for immigration should avoid working in weed shops because this could make the individual in-eligible to sponsor. Unfortunately, the Federal classification takes precedent over the state one with regards to immigration and although you may have legally engaged in an activity within your state, smoking is still viewed as illegal with regards to overall admissibility to the US. Therefore, immigration officials are saying that simply declining to answer the question would be a better approach than admitting you have smoked ever. The result may be a denial but you will not be deemed inadmissible to the US. However, speaking with an immigration professional is always advisable if you are concerned that this may be an issue for your immigration pathway.
Are You Worried about Being Inadmissible to the US?
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