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Felony Discrepancy May Offer Deportation Relief

(CN) - A Jamaican permanent resident of the United States who pleaded guilty to state drug charges can fight removal proceedings in the Supreme Court, the justices said Monday.

The U.S. government concluded that it could remove Adrian Moncrieffe after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to possessing marijuana with intent to distribute in Georgia.

An immigration judge ruled that Moncrieffe, who had legally entered the United States as a permanent resident at age 3 in 1984, was removable as an aggravated felon because the state conviction was analogous to a federal felony.

The Board of Immigration Appeals and the 5th Circuit rejected the Jamaican native's claims that the Georgia crime should not be considered an aggravated felony.

Charging documents do not reveal how much marijuana Moncrieffe possessed at the time of arrest, but a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration would only be a misdemeanor under federal law. Georgia law punishes the crime more harshly.

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