The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in which an alien who is a convicted drug offender is trying to stay in the country on a technicality. The decision he is asking the BIA to make would enable many other criminal aliens like himself to escape removal from the United States.
The alien was convicted of violating Florida law by possessing cocaine. On appeal, the alien argues that because Florida’s possession statute is slightly broader in what it lists as a controlled substance than the federal schedule of controlled substances, he did not commit a crime “related to” a federal controlled substance, and thus should not forfeit his eligibility for cancellation of removal under federal immigration law.
In its brief, IRLI argues that the Florida and federal schedules are so similar when it comes to cocaine and like substances that the alien has to show that any difference is more than theoretical, and that Florida actually has prosecuted people for possessing a rare kind of substance that may not be on the federal schedule. Because of the close chemical similarity between cocaine and another compound whose derivatives are on the federal schedule, IRLI contends, such a showing is unlikely.