New Report Shows 250,000 Deported For Drugs Since 2008

By McCarton Ackerman 04/14/14

Eleven percent of all U.S. deportations are drug related, with many being for simple possession of drugs including marijuana. Only one percent were drug traffickers.


A newly released report highlights shocking statistics that 250,000 people have been deported from the U.S. over the last six years for drug offenses.

Research from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University showed that nonviolent drug offenses were responsible for 11 percent of all deportations last year, while tens of thousands of people were deported simply for possessing small quantities of drugs including marijuana.

Roughly 6,600 people were deported in each of the last two years for personal marijuana possession, while over 20,000 people were deported last year for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Many of these individuals were incarcerated in the U.S. prison system before being sent back to their countries of origin. Only one percent of those removed from the U.S. were drug traffickers, with even less than that amount falling under the category of a violent drug trafficker.

In response, the Drug Policy Alliance is advocating for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, while also banning the arrest, incarceration, and deportation of those who are simply using or possessing drugs. A recent Pew poll also indicates that a majority of Americans are in favor of these policies. Sixty-three percent of those polled said that states should not have mandatory prison terms for drug law violations, while 67 percent advocate a treatment-based approach for nonviolent drug offenders. Fifty-four percent were also in favor of marijuana legalization.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said that “given that the vast majority of Americans don’t think people should be prosecuted for drug possession, it’s time to ask the question: Why are we still arresting people for nothing more than drug possession?”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.