An immigrant was facing up to 20 years in prison when a judge dismissed the case against him altogether. Her decision is far-reaching and potentially impacts those in Texas who have re-entered the U.S. after having been deported.
Bias in immigration law
On Aug. 8, a federal judge in Nevada dismissed the case, not because the defendant did not break immigration law but because the law was intentionally discriminatory against the Latinx populace. The judge was convinced that this law would not have been enacted if race were not inherent in the legislation. She determined that innate bias rendered Section 1326 of the Undesirable Alien Act of 1952 unconstitutional. She accepted that this law violated the defendant’s guarantees to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
The path forward
In formulating her decision, the judge relied on the expert witness of two university professors well-versed in historical immigration matters. She also noted that President Truman shared the belief that 1326 was racist in origin and vetoed the measure, yet there was enough support for the bill that his decision was overruled.
The Department of Justice, which charged the defendant, vehemently denied that race had anything to do with its decision to charge the defendant, claiming the decision to prosecute was a matter of national security. To date, there has been no mention as to whether or not the DOJ will file an appeal.
Although the debate of race in immigration policy will continue, the judge has brought a very important issue to the forefront: partiality in a system of justice that does not always distribute it equally. In light of her decision, the future may have a just path forward.