Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is once again standing up for immigrants. In a Tuesday interview with Pod Save America, AOC applauded President Biden’s recent cannabis pardons but criticized them for excluding immigrants who were undocumented at the time of their offense.
She highlighted the importance of having a Democratic Party that fights for Latino communities and immigrants.
“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 applauded that he went there, but he exempted people if they were convicted while they were undocumented,” the congresswoman said.
“That is 90%. We’re looking at the overwhelming majority of people who have been convicted that would benefit from that pardon, they have status complications,” AOC added. “We really need to step up, both in our efforts on campaigning but also our efforts in governance.”
The U.S. Sentencing Commission (USCC) from 2016 noted that 92% of all federal cannabis possession cases in fiscal year 2013 occurred at the southern border and 94% of those arrested were nonresidents, reported Marijuana Moment.
“I see these conversations, and it’s tough because on the other side, they have no qualms about having an anti-immigrant message, but I think we get scared of that,” said the NY representative. “And that segmentation prevents a clear message, and that lack of clarity makes it hard to win people over.”
This is not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has commented on the issue. She raised the question shortly after Biden’s announcement. “If the US is admitting these laws were unjust, then we shouldn’t discriminate pardons based on citizen status. Let’s get that liberty and justice for ALL,” she wrote on Twitter.
This is truly great news.
And for people to truly be freed from having their lives haunted by unjust marijuana convictions, we must work to *expunge* records beyond pardoning.
Between that and descheduling cannabis, we can make huge steps forward for so many communities. https://t.co/cJVAvyOM0n
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 7, 2022
Military Members Also Excluded
It is important to note that Biden’s pardons are estimated to benefit approximately 6,500 Americans, while some 40,000 people who were convicted on a state level remain unaffected unless state governors take Biden’s suggestion and do the same. Biden’s cannabis pardons also do not apply to members of the U.S. military, confirmed a White House official.
Taking all these “exemptions” from the pardons, it comes as no surprise that cannabis activists protested outside of the White House on Monday, urging Biden to keep on his promise and release those incarcerated over marijuana-related offenses. The action was organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) the Last Prisoner Project (LPP) and DC and Maryland Marijuana Justice (DCMJ/MDMJ).
Watch AOC’s interview in which she criticizes Biden’s pardons:
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.