The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether immigrants convicted of repeat, minor drug possession crimes should be subject to deportation.
The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, who was deported to his native Mexico after pleading no contest to possessing one tablet of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax without a prescription. A year earlier, Carachuri-Rosendo pleaded guilty to possessing less than two ounces of marijuana.
Both crimes are misdemeanors in Texas, where Carachuri-Rosendo lived. He was a legal U.S. resident who had been in the country more than 20 years, with a fiancee and four children who all are U.S. citizens.
The U.S. government undertook deportation proceedings against Carachuri-Rosendo based on the second conviction, noting that it could have been treated as a serious crime under federal law.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld rulings allowing for the deportation, but other appeals courts have ruled for the immigrants in such situations.
The Obama administration backed Carachuri-Rosendo's request for high court review because of the split among appeals courts, but called for the 5th Circuit ruling to be upheld.