AOC, other Democrats ask Biden to pardon marijuana offenses for illegal immigrants, reopen deportation cases

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. along with several other progressives are asking President Biden to pardon all federal simple marijuana possession offenses, regardless of immigration status.

Ocasio-Cortez was joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and several other members of Congress in the letter to Biden on Monday.

Biden announced the pardon of all prior convictions for federal offenses of simple marijuana possession on Oct. 6, but didn’t include illegal immigrants in the pardon.

“Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the Administration pardon all simple marijuana possession offenses – regardless of immigration status,” the members of Congress state in the letter. “Using the power of the pardon is a constitutional imperative and a critical tool in rectifying the compounding racial injustices of draconian drug policies. However, continuing to deport immigrants for simple marijuana possession will only exacerbate racial disparities, traumatize families and communities vital to this country’s fabric, and create ineffective legal regimes at taxpayers’ expense.”


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) prepares to speak during a rally for immigration provisions to be included in the Build Back Better Act outside the U.S. Capitol December 7, 2021 in Washington, DC. Progressive Democrats are urging the Senate to include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. in the Build Back Better Act.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Granting pardons to all simple marijuana possession offenses – regardless of immigration status – demonstrates genuine compassion while ensuring that our country continues to mitigate the inhumane and ineffective drudge policies that have ravaged communities of color for so long,” the letter adds.

In addition to asking Biden to pardon simple marijuana possession charges, the Democrats also ask him to reopen “the immigration cases of those who were deported for marijuana-related offenses.”

Biden said in a tweet after announcing the pardons that “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”

“First: I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden,” Biden tweeted.


Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is seen in the U.S. Capitols Rayburn Room during a group photo with the Congressional Black Caucus, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“This pardon does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense,” the proclamation states.

A Biden administration official told Fox News Digital that the pardon applies to U.S. citizens and green card holders, but said that people not in those groups could apply for a pardon.

“This particular pardon is limited to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who committed simple possession of marijuana,” the official said. “Others who believe they have persuasive cases for clemency can apply through the regular pardon process.

“Such petitions will receive an individualized review at the Justice Department before being presented to the President for potential executive action,” the official continued.


Biden’s meeting Monday with Xi was the first time the two have met since Biden became president.
(AP/Alex Brandon)

Ocasio-Cortez has previously criticized Biden for not including illegal immigrants in the pardon during an episode of “Pod Save America.”

“I can at least say with Latino voters, we’ve never tried as a party. The Democratic Party has not tried in terms of Latino electorates. And, I mean, where’s our Dream Act, where is our immigration reform. And even recently with President Biden’s marijuana executive order, I very much applaud that he went there, but he exempted people who were convicted if they were convicted while they were undocumented,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.