Lopez v. Gonzales & Toledo-Flores v. United States (consolidated)
Lopez and Toledo-Flores are both non-citizens who sued the United States seeking a judicial ruling that their previous crimes are not aggravated felonies under federal law. They both committed drug crimes that are not felonies under the Controlled Substances Act, but are felonies under state law.
Lopez was convicted of aiding and abetting the possession of cocaine in South Dakota. The Immigration and Naturalization Service began removal proceedings against Lopez based on his state drug conviction. Lopez applied for a cancellation of removal under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). An Immigration Judge denied the cancellation because he viewed Lopez's drug conviction as an aggravated felony conviction. Lopez appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals(BIA), which affirmed the ruling of the Immigration Judge. Lopez then sued the Attorney General of the United States, allowing him to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which upheld the BIA’s opinion. The court held that any drug conviction that would be a felony under state or federal law is an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
Toledo-Flores was convicted of cocaine possession in Texas. Later, the United States convicted Toledo-Flores of improperly entering the country, and the judge increased the length of his sentence because of the prior drug conviction. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the longer sentence, holding that under the Controlled Substances Act, any crime that is punishable by more than a year of imprisonment under state law is considered an aggravated felony, even if the same crime is considered a misdemeanor under federal criminal law.
Lopez v. Gonzales
Whether an immigrant who is convicted in state court of a drug crime that is a felony under the state's law but that would only be a misdemeanor under federal law has committed an "aggravated felony" for purposes of the immigration laws.
Toledo-Flores v. United States
Has the Fifth Circuit erred in holding–in opposition to the Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits–that a state felony conviction for simple
possession of a controlled substance is a "drug trafficking crime" under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(2) and hence an "aggravated felony," under 8 U.S.C. §
1101(a)(43)(B), even though the same crime is a misdemeanor under federal law?
Decisions under Review:
Supreme Court Opinions: