52-year-old immigrant had challenged deportation and was held in custody for 4 1/2 years
By H. Nelson Goodson
El Conquistador Newspaper
3206 W. National Ave.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53215
January 3, 2009
Kearney, New Jersey- Moises R. Mory Lamas, 52, a native from Peru had been held in custody for 4 1/2 years by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) and Immigration
and Naturalization Services (INS) since May 7, 2004 was granted a release without any explanation on Friday January 2. Mory Lamas walked out a free man from the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearney at about 8:30 p.m. while other undocumented immigrants cheered his release and departure from the facility. Mory Lamas had first received word about his letter for release at about 5:00 p.m. on Friday while he was working to prepare legal documents for another undocumented detainee at the correctional center.
Mory Lamas after his release visited with family and close friends at a relative’s residence. On Saturday at about 2:50 a.m. New Jersey time, Mory Lamas spoke to El Conquistador Newspaper and expressed great gratitude for their news coverage concerning his USICE detention and his plight challenging deportation. He also thanked everyone who in one way or other helped to get him released.
Mory Lamas is scheduled to meet with immigration officials on Tuesday. His plight began when USICE seeking to deport Mory Lamas for his 1986 misdemeanor conviction. In June of that year, Mory Lamas was charged with “possession” of a controlled substance. The complaint stated Mory Lamas was riding along with an acquaintance who was carrying 3.5 grams of cocaine on him. The acquaintance confessed to police that the drugs belonged to him and that Mory Lamas knew nothing about them. Mory was later convicted when he pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 364 days in jail. Mory Lamas later contended his attorney had advised him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in order to avoid a lengthy and costly court process, even though Mory Lamas maintained he was innocent. His attorney or the judge in the state case never informed Mory Lamas that the charges could later have consequences with his immigration status. Mory Lamas is now trying to vacate the state misdemeanor drug possession charge.
Mory Lamas has lived in this country for more than two decades. He filed an application to become a permanent resident in 1984 when he and his wife, Ruth, applied for amnesty. While his wife became a permanent resident, Mory Lamas’s application remained pending due to the 1986 conviction. In 1999, when Ruth became a U.S. citizen, she filed a petition for a “status adjustment” for Mory Lamas, and instead the INS used the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act” signed into law in 1996 by President William Clinton to begin deportation proceedings against him. The act allowed numerous offenses such as misdemeanors to redefine them as aggravated felonies for which a person can be deported or deemed “ineligible” for citizenship.
Mory Lamas pled guilty to a misdemeanor conviction for simple possession of a controlled substance, which is a state misdemeanor and not an aggravated felony. As decided in the Jose Antonio Lopez Petitioner v. Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General No. 05-547, which Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the court deciding on the questioned raised is whether conduct made a felony under state law but a misdemeanor under the Controlled Substances Act is a “felony punishable under the Controlled Substance Act” 18 U.S.C.§924(c)(2). The U.S. Supreme Court decided it is not.
In this particular case, Lopez was a citizen from Mexico living in South Dakota. He was convicted of aiding and abetting the possession of cocaine. INS decided Lopez’s conviction was an "aggravated felony" a deportable offense.
The crime Lopez was convicted of is a felony only under South Dakota law, but it is only a misdemeanor under the federal Controlled Substances Act. In Mory Lamas’s case, INS tried to classify his state misdemeanor conviction as an aggravated felony under Clinton’s act. INS has failed to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court decision that such convictions are not felonies punishable under the Controlled Substance Act.
You Tube internet link message from Moises R. Mory Lamas in Spanish at a relatives residence.
Other internet links to related articles:
YouTube - Moises Mory Lamas, 53, a Peruvian immigrant freed from 4 1/2 years from USICE custody, Thanks H. Nelson Goodson!