Golden Gate University Law Review


This Note focuses on one historically uncommon way in which courts decide to deport an undocumented immigrant seeking cancellation of removal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“Ninth Circuit”) in Ledezma-Cosino v. Sessions found an undocumented immigrant seeking cancellation of removal ineligible because he was considered a “habitual drunkard.” Ultimately, his case was reheard en banc where the Ninth Circuit vacated the original three-judge panel opinion and upheld the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision finding Ledezma-Cosino ineligible for cancellation of removal because he was a habitual drunkard.

The first part of this Note discusses the factual and procedural history and the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of Ledezma-Cosino v. Sessions. Second, this Note discusses the controlling statutes at issue: cancellation of removal and good moral character. The third part discusses the background of the habitual drunkard provision, the tests used to determine a person’s status as a habitual drunkard, and how the habitual drunkard provision relates to good moral character. Fourth, it argues that the Ninth Circuit’s analysis regarding a person’s status as a habitual drunkard or alcoholic should not automatically determine his or her moral character and that the court erred by finding that it does. Finally, this Note provides solutions to the problems arising from the Ninth Circuit’s analysis. The solutions proposed include: accurately defining and distinguishing between the terms habitual drunkard and alcoholic; amending the habitual drunkard provision of the good moral character statute; and creating a new standard to deal with immigrants found to be habitual drunkards.