Immigrant Teens Less Likely To Use Drugs, View Drug Use Favorably

By McCarton Ackerman 09/03/15

Contrary to the rhetoric spouted by politicians, immigrants are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviors.

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Donald Trump may not want to read this, but a new study released by the University of Texas shows that immigrant teens are less likely to use drugs and have more disapproving views on drug use.

The findings, published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, looked at demographic data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002-09. The study findings also showed that immigrant teens are 50% less likely than American-born teens to binge drink, and use or sell drugs.

Researchers also noted that drug use and violent behavior were lower among those who had been in the U.S. for five years or less, as well as those who arrived in the U.S. at age 12 or older. Immigrant teens were also less likely than their American-born peers to carry guns or get into fights.

“As we have seen growth in the number of immigrants in United States, we have also witnessed rising concern that immigrants may present a threat to American society,” said social work professor Christopher Salas-Wright, who led the study. “Our research adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that, despite experiencing adversity on multiple fronts, immigrants are substantially less likely than those born in the United States to be involved in antisocial and risky behavior.”

However, some politicians believe that the drug habits of Americans are what is actually fueling an immigration crisis. In July 2014, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) spoke out against Obama’s plans for increased deportations, and blamed American drug users for fueling violence and poverty south of the border. He also stated that many of these children were left with no choice but to flee due to the issues in their home countries.

"How do the drug cartels maintain their power? With American guns bought with American dollars because of American consumption of the drugs," he said. "The drugs don't stay in Honduras. They don't stay in Mexico. They come straight to the streets of the United States of America. And so, I think we have a great responsibility in the debilitating of those countries."

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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.