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Judicial Watch • Fed Appeals Court Protects “Habitual Drunkards” from Deportation

Fed Appeals Court Protects “Habitual Drunkards” from Deportation

Fed Appeals Court Protects “Habitual Drunkards” from Deportation

APRIL 04, 2016

In what may seem like a bad joke, a U.S. federal appellate court has ruled that an illegal immigrant convicted of drunk-driving can’t be deported because federal immigration law discriminates against “habitual drunkards” like him.

The case involves an illegal immigrant from Mexico, Salomon Ledezma-Cosino, with at least one drunk-driving conviction, possibly more. Ledezma-Cosino has lived in the U.S. illegally since 1997 and has eight kids, five of them anchor babies born in America. He works in the construction industry and has a criminal record. Ledezma-Cosino drank about a liter of tequila every day for a decade, according to medical records cited in federal court documents, and has been diagnosed with acute alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. This man should be the poster child for deportation yet he remains in the country and is now further protected by a federal appellate court ruling.

That’s because this particular court, the notoriously leftist 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, believes the portion of federal immigration law that should get Ledezma-Cosino removed is discriminatory. For more than five decades a law enacted by Congress has stated that illegal aliens who are not of good moral character can be deported. This includes individuals with serious felony convictions, who have participated in genocide or torture, have two or more gambling offenses or have engaged in prostitution or drug-trafficking. Those who fail to pay court-ordered child support or alimony, smuggle aliens into the U.S., vote illegally or participate in religious persecution and are deemed “habitual drunkards” are also considered to lack the sort of good moral character that can get them removed from the country.

The U.S. government is trying to deport Ledezma-Cosino under the provision that he’s a proven “habitual drunkard.” The removal case dates back to 2008, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained the Mexican national and began removal proceedings. He appealed for relief and the government determined he didn’t qualify because he lacked good moral character as a habitual drunkard. Keep in mind that the Obama administration has issued a widespread amnesty that protects practically all illegal aliens, so it’s revealing that the government keeps trying to remove this particular man. In its ruling the appellate court blasts the federal measure that associates habitual drunkards with poor morale character, writing that it violates the equal-protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution because alcoholism is a disease. “The theory that alcoholics are blameworthy because they could simply try harder to recover is an old trope not supported by the medical literature,” the ruling states. “Rather, the inability to stop drinking is a function of the underlying ailment.”

The court further states in its decision that there is no rational basis for classifying persons afflicted by chronic alcoholism as persons who innately lack good moral character, writing that chronic acute alcoholism is itself a disease and a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. “Like any other medical condition, alcoholism is undeserving of punishment and should not be held morally offensive,” the ruling says. “Although people with alcoholism continue to face stigma, private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect. We are well past the point where it is rational to link a person’s medical disability with his moral character.”

If the Obama administration doesn’t appeal this outrageous ruling, Ledezma-Cosino, and other illegal immigrant habitual drunkards like him, can probably stay in the U.S. In the past few years Judicial Watch has reported on—and investigated—cases that illustrate individuals like Ledezma-Cosino are ticking time bombs that can cause a lot of damage. JW sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for records regarding an illegal immigrant, Carlos Martinelly-Montano, who already had multiple drunk-driving convictions when he killed a nun while driving drunk in Virginia. JW is also investigating a DHS cover-up involving an illegal immigrant with multiple drunk-driving convictions who slammed into a couple’s sports utility vehicle in New Mexico, killing their baby. He had been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) at least three times yet was spared deportation.


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