President Biden’s move to pardon Americans with prior federal convictions of simple marijuana possession will not include offenses committed by illegal immigrants — an exception that has already bristled some immigrant activists.
Biden announced Thursday that those convicted of simple possession of marijuana under federal law would be pardoned, while also urging governors to pardon those convicted of state offenses.
“As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said. ” Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit.”
The White House said that while no-one is currently in prison for “simple possession,” a pardon for those who have convictions could allow better access to housing or employment.
“There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,” Biden said in his statement. “My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”
However, the proclamation indicated that the pardon would not apply to illegal immigrants.
“This pardon does not apply to individuals who were non-citizens not lawfully present in the United States at the time of their offense,” it said.
An administration official confirmed to Fox News Digital that the pardon only applies to green card holders and U.S. citizens — although added that those who are not in those groups can apply for a pardon.
“This particular pardon is limited to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who committed simple possession of marijuana,” the official said. “Others who believe they have persuasive cases for clemency can apply through the regular pardon process.
“Such petitions will receive an individualized review at the Justice Department before being presented to the President for potential executive action,” they said.
The announcement angered immigration activists who noted that marijuana possession is still a deportable offense.
“Once again this choice continues to criminalize immigrants, excluding us from what we know is right for all,” activist group United We Dream tweeted.
“Today’s POTUS order grants pardons for marijuana possession convictions but goes out of its way to exclude undocumented immigrants who may still be detained and deported b/c of simple possession of marijuana thanks to harsh 1996 immigration laws,” the National Immigrant Justice Center said.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.