An immigrant’s proof of prior cannabis use will no longer be necessary for denying them American citizenship according to a recent congressional reform.
On Monday, Representative Brendan Boyle submitted the legislation. It tackles a section of the state immigration policy that entails launching ‘good moral character’ to be part of the naturalization application.
Based on the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), an individual who admits to using marijuana, even in adherence to federal law, is morally ineligible for U.S citizenship. The department emphasized that stand in the 2019 memo, citing that job opportunities in a federally-legal cannabis market are another aspect that could affect an individual’s status of immigration.
The congressman’s reform was initially reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer. It specifically eradicates an exemption for candidates who admit to having possessed, used, or distributed marijuana. It would also carve out a separate stigmatizing query, ‘have you ever become a habitual drunkard?, from the naturalization document.
Boyle said during a press release that these queries are entirely unassociated with citizenship. He added that it’s troubling to see state applications such as this that are still using antiquated and harsh terms, such as ‘habitual drunkard’.
He further said that potential citizens shouldn’t be punished for relatively non-criminal and harmless offenses. This unethical language serves to restore societal misunderstandings and stigmas regarding substance abuse and it’s time the state modernizes these procedures.
Immigrants who were deported or denied visas based only on a marijuana-related misdemeanor would have their documents reinstated or can reapply under the reform, that has been ascended to the House Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers and activists have broadly critiqued the discriminatory immigration policy.
In 2019 January, a group consisting of ten senators submitted a letter to the Justice Department’s and Homeland Security’s head pushing for a regulation change to allow folks employed in federally –legal markets to obtain citizenship.