Report Recommends Sweeping Reforms, Including Decriminalizing All Drugs
Momentum for Reform Accelerates as California Introduces Bills to Aid Non-Citizen Defendants Arrested for Drug Possession
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday released a first-of-its-kind report showing that tens of thousands of people are deported from the United States each year for minor drug law violations.
The report, "A Price Too High: U.S. Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses," documents how deportations of non-citizens for minor drug possession offenses have spiked in recent years, increasing by 43 percent from 2007 to 2012. In total, more than a quarter of a million people (roughly 266,000) have been deported for drug offenses since 2007, most commonly for minor drug possession offenses.
Under current immigration laws that focus on targeting “threats to public safety and national security,” decades-old offenses and/or pardoned drug convictions can lead to mandatory detention and deportation. However, Human Rights Watch found that most non-citizens deported for criminal convictions had only committed minor, nonviolent offenses.
The damning new report provides another example of how the war on drugs has become a war against migrant communities, fueling racism, violence, and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Roughly 40,000 people (or more) have been deported every year since 2008 due to drug law violations.