A Meditation on Moncrieffe: On Marijuana, Misdemeanants, and Migration

01 January 2014

This essay is a brief meditation on the immigration schizophrenia in our law and legal culture through the lens of the Supreme Court’s latest statement on immigration and crime, Moncrieffe v. Holder. While hailed as a “common sense” decision, Moncrieffe is a rather narrow ruling that does little to change the law regarding aggravated felonies or the ways in which class and citizenship play into the enforcement of minor drug crimes and their deportation consequences. Despite broad agreement on the Court, the Moncrieffe opinion still leaves the discretion to deport minor state drug offenders in the hands of the federal immigration bureaucracy. However, if the current debate among the states regarding the legitimate uses of marijuana helps lead immigration authorities to refocus their efforts on deporting serious criminals only, then immigrant advocates may come to view Moncrieffe in a much more favorable light.