Recently there have been some issues arising regarding DUI charges and an individual’s immigration status. Unauthorized immigrants who are “habitual drunkards” cannot challenge their deportations on grounds of family hardship, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, rejecting an earlier decision that had declared such legal objections unconstitutional.
Federal law allows immigrants who entered the country illegally to remain if they have shown “good moral character” during the past 10 years of their U.S. residence and their deportation would cause undue hardship to close family members who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. Among the categories defined by the 1952 law as lacking good moral character were certain serious felons, people who lied to gain immigration benefits and habitual drunkards.
A panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 2-1 in March 2016 that the law on drunkards was discriminatory because alcoholism is an illness, not a moral defect. But the full appeals court voted to grant the government a rehearing before a larger panel, which upheld the law Tuesday in a 9-2 decision.
Because “people who regularly drink alcoholic beverages to excess pose increased risks to themselves and others,” a strict ban on their presence “furthers the legitimate governmental interest in public safety,” Judge Susan Graber said in the court’s lead opinion.