Low-Level Drug Offenders Deported


In the past several years the President, as well as a number of government officials, have highlighted the need for the end of harsh punishments with regard to low-level drug offenders. Unfortunately, both illegal and legal immigrants do not seem to be covered under that umbrella. A new report has found that around 260,000 non-citizens convicted of drug offenses have been deported from the U.S., The Guardian reports. As many as 34,000 of these deportation cases were due to charges for marijuana possession.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, A Price Too High: US Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Low Level Offenses, found that between 2007-2012 over a quarter million people were deported regardless of the nature of their crimes, their length of time in the U.S., or family ties to this country. Those deported included both undocumented residents as well as permanent residents holding green cards, according to the article.

Last November, President Barack Obama made a promise that deportation would only be reserved for the most serious criminals. However, the HRW report indicates the exact opposite of such a promise.

“Felons not families; criminals not children; gang members [and not] a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” said Obama.

Lawful permanent residents who are charged with simple possession are able to file for a cancellation of deportation, according to the report. While they may be able to win their case, deportation lawyers point out that such cases can take several months to years. In the interim, most people facing these charges are placed in mandatory detention while proceedings are pending.

If deported from the United States for a drug crime, many lose their right to ever return to the country. Such acts, for crimes as benign as simple possession, only serve to tear families apart. Crimes associated with drug possession, and perhaps ultimately with addiction, affect not only the individual, but also the entire family. Addiction is a family disease.

You can view the full HRW report, here.