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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal appeals court has upheld a law that bars people who are in the country illegally from avoiding deportation if they are habitual drunks.

A divided 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday said Congress may have reasonably concluded that people who regularly drink alcohol to excess pose a greater risk to themselves and others. The law considers regular drunks not to have good moral character.

The ruling overturned a decision by a smaller 9th Circuit panel that ruled that alcoholism is an illness, not a moral defect.

The decision came in the case of Salomon Ledezma-Cosino, who faced deportation after his arrest in California in 2008 on suspicion of driving under the influence.

His attorney, Kelsi Corkran, said the ruling further stigmatizes alcoholism.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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