The Drug War = Mass Deportation: 250,000 Deported for Drug Offenses in Last 6 Years

The drug war has increasingly become a war against migrant communities. It fuels racial profiling, border militarization, violence against immigrants, intrusive government surveillance and, especially, widespread detentions and deportations. 

Media and politicians have tried to convince us that everyone who gets deported is a violent criminal, a terrorist or a drug kingpin. But a newly released, first-of-its-kind report shatters that notion, showing instead that the majority (some two-thirds) of those deported last year were guilty of minor, nonviolent offenses – including thousands deported for nothing more than possessing small quantities of drugs, typically marijuana.

The report, an analysis of federal immigration data conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, details how roughly 40,000 people have been deported for drug law violations every year since 2008. That means that nearly 250,000 – one-quarter of a million – people were deported for nonviolent drugoffenses in just the past six years. A nonviolent drug offense was the cause of deportation for more than one in ten (11% of) people deported in 2013 for any reason – and nearly one in five (19%) of those who were deported because of a criminal conviction.


Much as the drug war drives mass incarceration, it also appears to be a major driver of mass deportation. Indeed, the report reveals that simple marijuana possession was the fourth most common cause of deportation for any crime, and the most common cause of deportation for crimes involving drugs. On average, more than 6,600 people were deported in each of the last two years just for personal marijuana possession, and overall, nearly 20,000 people were deported last year for simple possession of any drug or drug paraphernalia.

By contrast, relatively few of those deported were drug traffickers, let alone violent ones.  “Convictions for drugtrafficking accounted for only one percent of deportees recorded as convicted of a crime,” the report’s authors note, “while marijuana possession was more than three times that level.”

What becomes of the people who are deported? The sad, simple truth is that they will first likely be disappeared within the (increasingly for-profit) U.S. prison and detention system; then sent back to their countries of origin, where they may no longer have any ties to family or community, may lack basic survival needs like food, housing and health services and may face serious threats to their security. Those who are removed from the country are usually barred from reentry, often for life – no matter if they have family members who are U.S. citizens or decades-long ties to their communities of residence here in the states.

The result, then, is thousands of families broken and communities torn apart every single year.

Because of these grave consequences, advocates for drug policy reform and defenders of migrants’ rights have begun to team up to demand humane reforms to both drug and immigration policies. Central to our demands is that no one be arrested, incarcerated or deported for merely using or possessing drugs – which necessarily entails two major drug law reforms: (1) legalize and regulate marijuana, and (2) stop arresting and criminalizing people for using or possessing everything else.

These commonsense reforms are hardly controversial: recent polls indicate that substantial majorities nationwide seem to favor both proposals. Yet, though modest, they would have a huge impact: sparing tens of thousands of people from deportation every year, while saving tens of thousands more from the anguish of an arrest, conviction, jail or prison sentence, and criminal record; and saving millions of dollars in currently wasted criminal justice resources.

Such steps are critical for dismantling the war on drugs and ending the war on immigrants – a fight that is, in many ways, one and the same.


Daniel Robelo is research coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.orgThis piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog./em>

Latino Rebels Radio Launches with #AJAMBorderland and #Not1More

Tonight, Latino Rebels Radio launched. Every Sunday night. Live at 10pmET. Click here. We just WENT FOR IT. The convo was real and live. The tech things will work themselves out in future shows.

The show focused on the premiere of Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland.” We even got a surprise call from Kishana Holland @treschicstyle, one of the cast members of the series. Kishana added her thoughts about the show and how real it was.

We also talked with NDLON’s Tania Unzueta about the #Not1More campaign.

NDLON Publishes Blue Ribbon Immigration Recommendations for President

What follows is an executive summary published today by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) containing the findings of a Blue Ribbon Commission that NDLON helped to form. As it states on its site, “former and currently undocumented immigrant leaders formed a Blue Ribbon Commission to perform an independent review and present its recommendations to the President, helping fill the noticeable lack of representation from those seeking legal status and citizenship in recently-convened White House meetings. They request a meeting with the President to discuss their findings and hear directly from those who are impacted by potential upcoming policy changes.”

This is the executive summary:

#Not1More Blue Ribbon Commission Summary

The full report will be shared later today. You can access it here.

Here are the commissions’s members:











Border Patrol (With Local Sheriffs) Apprehending Undocumented Immigrants in Churches

UPDATE: We changed the head since it suggested that Border Patrol agent entered the church as well. That is not clear, but what is clear is this: undocumented immigrants were in a church, local sheriffs found them and then BP showed up.

This story got our attention when we received the following email from a loyal reader of this site:

I am on a social media “cleanse” for Lent, so apologize if you’ve already covered this. But it is OUTRAGEOUS!!

In short: Latino, poor, at a Catholic Church? Sheriffs in AZ consider that cause to question. I’m going to have to break my cleanse for this…

The reason why our fan is breaking the Lenten cleanse? The following tweet, which was also part of the email:

That tweet led us to this story out of Tucson: “N4T Investigators: Undocumented immigrants taken into custody at Ajo Catholic church” We did a double take before we started reading:

According to a Pima County Sheriff’s Department incident report obtained by the News 4 Tucson Investigators, a deputy passing by the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church spotted three Hispanic males on the front porch of the church. The three were wearing dingy and tattered clothing, and were also carrying water bottles.

The deputy goes on to say that all three then hurriedly walked into the church. The deputy then went into the church, which was not in session. Ultimately, the three told him they had come from Honduras, walking three months, and crossing the border illegally.

After taking the trio outside, the deputy detained the three until Border Patrol arrived. An agent them took the men into custody, after confirming they were in the country illegally.

“They had a suspicious look, and their behavior indicated that they were potentially up to no good. That’s why our deputy honed-in on it,” says Captain Frank Duarte, with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

According to the Tucson report, the incident happened on March 23. That would be a week before U.S. bishops held a “Border Mass” in Nogales, right next to the U.S. “security” fence, to draw attention to migrant deaths and the need for immigration reform:

Talk about mixed messages. In fairness, the Tucson report also talked with the Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon. Here is what the report said: 

Kicanas says there is a long-standing custom of the Border Patrol, police and sheriff to respect the sanctity of the church and not apprehend people inside. He also raised concerns that the group had entered the church seeking help, and asking to pray. Kicanas added, while police can legally question someone who looks suspicious it was not clear that the men had done anything wrong to lead to their apprehension in the church.

You can just imagine the reaction people are sharing with us on Twitter and Facebook. Here are just a few comments:

Is it legal? Technically, yes. Does it look really bad? Of course.

As another person wrote, “Not even the Church they respect. God Almighty.”

By the way, here is what ICE (a different agency from Border Patrol but in the business of “enforcing” immigration) said in 2011 about these situations: “This policy is designed to ensure that these enforcement actions do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools and churches unless (a) exigent circumstances exist~ (b) other law enforcement actions have led officers to a sensitive location…” So since the Tucson case also had local law enforcement in the mix, we guess it was cool to raid a church and deport some migrants.

Enforcement Actions at or Focused on Sensitive Locations

Looks like Border Patrol didn’t get ICE’s memo. Sure, BP is a different agency from ICE, but still. While we are on that subject, here is the difference:

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for protecting our nation’s borders in order to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.

We digress, but it is interesting how U.S. Customs and Border Protection defines each agency.

Nonetheless, such news today also reminded us of the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, where many churches were active to help Central Americans who where fleeing brutal civil wars, which, quite frankly, were being instigated by the U.S. government. As one outlet writes:

At the Sanctuary Movement’s height in the mid 1980s, over 150 congregations openly defied the government, publicly sponsoring and supporting undocumented Salvadoran or Guatemalan refugee families. Another 1,000 local Christian and Jewish congregations, several major Protestant denominations, the Conservative and Reform Jewish associations, and several Catholic orders all endorsed the concept and practice of sanctuary. Sanctuary workers coordinated with activists in Mexico to smuggle Salvadorans and Guatemalans over the border and across the country. Assistance provided to refugees included bail and legal representation, as well as food, medical care, and employment.

The defense of the Salvadorans and Guatemalans marked a new use of international human rights norms by U.S. activists. Citing the Nuremberg principles of personal accountability developed in the post-World War II Nazi tribunals, religious activists claimed a legal precedent to justify their violation of U.S. laws against alien smuggling. Other activists claimed that their actions were justified by the religious and moral principles of the 19th-century U.S. abolitionist movement, referring to their activities as a new “Underground Railroad.” Many U.S. religious leaders involved in the Sanctuary Movement had prior experience in the 1960s civil disobedience campaigns against racial segregation in the American South.

The fact is that yes, law enforcement can go into any church in the U.S. and apprehend people. Border Patrol sees so no problem. ICE agents are not allowed… unless, of course, they are accompanied by local law enforcement. However, many still think such an act is a desecration.

Erika Andiola Confronts Rep. Loretta Sánchez Over Protest Arrests (VIDEO)

A grainy video tweeted to us tonight from the National Queer and Trans Latin@ Alliance shows immigration rights activist Erika Andiola confronting Rep. Loretta Sánchez (D-CA) about the arrests of immigration protesters made yesterday in Sánchez’s DC office.

Another tweet shows a picture of Sánchez and Andiola talking during what appears to be the confrontation at the #womentogether immigration reform 2-day fast:

In the video, Andiola begins by asking Sánchez whether the California Democrat would support the undocumented youth who were arrested in her office, since “they’re still in the detention center right now.” Andiola suggested that the youth could face deportation. Sánchez looked eager to answer the question but Andiola did not give up her mic, so a another mic was given the Sánchez. Here is a very rough transcript of what Sánchez said on the video (the audio quality is a bit poor at times):

“The answer is, first of all, I was on a plane, so I wasn’t in my office.”

Andiola: “Your staff arrested them.”

Sánchez: “No, the staff doesn’t have arresting authority. The police came, the police came because they were disrupting the office.”

Andiola: “And letters of support?”

Sánchez: ”We have given plenty of letters of support, that’s the first thing, and the second thing is, when you get arrested in Washington, D.C. for a protest, for all your information, usually you just go over to a little holding place [inaudible] and then you sign that you won’t be back or whatever. They don’t send you to jail. Okay, they don’t send you to jail.”

Andiola: ”They are right now.”

Sánchez: We [inaudible] the people right now that they want to go to jail. They made the decision of being in the holding thing…

Andiola: No.

Sánchez: And finally [inaudible, some loud voices] (Sánchez starts walking away)

Unidentified voice: Will you ask for their release?

Sánchez: I would ask for it, but unfortunately, and you know this, they’re all in the system. This is a problem, when people…

Then the video shows Sánchez leaving.

Those close to the action tweeted that the protesters were all released this afternoon:

Meanwhile, two of the protesters detained shared their own thoughts on Twitter:

Earlier today, Sánchez’s Twitter profile sent out these tweets:

UPDATE: Sánchez has issued a statement:

I was on a flight from California to Washington, DC, when a group of activists began protesting in my DC office. I always appreciate when young people want to come and have their voices heard. Because I was not there my staff offered to meet with them, but the protesters refused. When the protesters refused to engage in meaningful dialogue and became disruptive by chanting loudly and sitting on the floor in our meeting space, my staff made the determination to call support from the Capitol Police. The protesters were given repeated offers from the officers and individuals within their own organization to leave without arrest, but unfortunately chose not to leave. I have formally responded to a letter the protesters left behind and I hope it conveys what really matters – that I am on their side.

Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland” Is a MUST WATCH

EDITOR’S NOTE: Latino Rebels asked noted immigration rights activist and HuffPost contributor Juan Escalante to submit a review about “Borderland,” a new series premiering Sunday April 13 on Al Jazeera America. Yeah, we know that our founder works for AJAM, but we kindly remind people that LR is a collective of many voices here. Juan’s voice is one of many here. Now, on to Juan’s review.

In a world where self-serving media is becoming the norm, there are few programs available for consumption that actually challenge our political positions. Those of us who passionately follow an issue on a regular basis are subject to the single story coverage that news networks decide to present to us, presented with its own tone and agenda built in—designed for viewers to consume and reinforce their political beliefs on a regular basis.

But what happens when you throw this model out, and instead present a program that is grounded in reality? One that mixes opinions, provides arguments for both sides of the issue and upholds objectivity above all?

Enter “Borderland” from Al Jazeera America.

The short series, scheduled for release this Sunday April 13, follows six individuals who have strong opinions on the hot button issues of immigration reform in the United States. The group, composed of three supporters and three opponents, is a very interesting mix of individuals – as all of them represent a different dimension within the complex issue of immigration.

You have your immigrant supporters: A gentleman from Washington State, who being a card-carrying Republican, recognizes the need for immigrant labor. An artist from New York, who does not believe that there should be any borders in the world, as well as a recently naturalized immigration Activist from Florida.

However, there are also those who disagree. Within the group there is a 9/11 survivor from Las Vegas who would “call the INS in a heartbeat” should she find out that an undocumented immigrant was living in her community. There is a veteran from Illinois, who through his radio show tries to inform the country about the “invasion” occurring in our country. Lastly, there is the President of a Young Republican club from Arkansas, a young woman who also works in Arkansas’ state senate.

If by now you are thinking that this will be your average debate show where participants duke it out with their views and prepared talking points, then let me tell you one thing—it’s not.

“Borderland” sends these six individuals to the epicenter of the immigration debate: Arizona and the neighboring border region. Having not been to the border, and yet having strong opinions about illegal immigration, all participants begin the show at a morgue near the Arizona/Mexico border where they are exposed to an undeniable reality that is often taken for granted when talking about the United States southwestern border.


After the initial shock, all six participants are then introduced to families who live alongside the border. A community of ranchers depicts how illegal immigration is impacting their business and way of life, reinforcing the beliefs of half of the participants, but also challenging some of the preconceived notions of the immigrant supporters.


The episode progresses in this manner, putting all six participants out of their elements in situations that are often uncomfortable: participating in water drops for to aid border crossers, touring the border and seeing how violence was brought upon tragedy to local communities. All is wrapped up by a narrator who provides facts, figures and history relating back to how the border got to where it is today. At one point, the narrator even reminds us about U.S. policy in Central America 30 years ago. Every action has a consequence.

There are plenty of eyebrow-raising instances in Borderland, as participants often voice their disagreements and complaints to one another. Sparks flew as I heard some of the arguments from both sides – highlighting the importance that while a lot of us have polarized opinions on the subject, many haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the immigration issue. And if this is coming from an online immigration activist, what could be said about those who just take their “facts and figures” at face value from certain immigrant groups.

Bottom line, Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland” is a show unlike no other. It is presented in a format familiar to today’s audience, but backed with real information and grounded in real life experiences from those who are directly affected by what goes on at the border.

I encourage both sides of the immigration debate to take a look at this show. The series is set to premiere on Sunday, April 13 on Al Jazeera America. For more, visit the show’s official site.


Juan Escalante is an undocumented immigrant, studying for his Masters in Public Administration Candidate at Florida State University. You can follow Juan on Twitter @JuanSaaa.

#SanchezDeports and #BecerraDeports Chronicle Arrests of Immigration Activists

What the Neo-Nativists Say About #2Million2Many

Take a moment and read what the “other side” had to say about this weekend’s #2Million2Many demonstrations. The following email comes from a group called “Help Save Maryland.” It is a real email, which we did not edit. We decided to add our response to this letter first before we ran it. Here is our response:


Here is the email:

Help Save Maryland Crashes Amnesty Party in Lafayette Park

Special thanks to the Help Save Maryland supporters from MD and VA who took the time to come to DC Saturday afternoon to let the illegal alien community know up close and personal that Amnesty is not an option for criminal lawbreakers.

I’m sure CASA of Maryland, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the other radical groups at Lafayette Park had to be quite disappointed at the low turnout for the DC event, part of a multi-state event to push Amnesty and lawlessness. Other then Telemundo, there were no legitimate press/media covering the event. None. Shocking.


It was a typical CASA/SEIU event with lots of white Spanish speaking handlers coaching a small group of illegal aliens who spoke little to zero English. Many had those nice red CASA wool caps on. Did not see what was provided in the standard CASA provided box lunch. 90% of the event was in Spanish. There was a sprinkling of Georgetown students there.

HSM members had some good conversations with many there, explaining our position on the rule of law, what national borders are and why we have them, why we think Amnesty is unfair to legal immigrants and more. Even filled some folks in on the colorful flag we had flying below the large Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me) Flag – It was our Maryland flag!

Highlights of the afternoon

(1) After we walked around and through the illegal alien gatherers and talked with Telemundo & some radical press folks, a couple of the El Jefe (Spanish for the boss) types came over and asked if we were with Help Save Maryland. Nice to be recognized! I believe they were SEIU leaders.

(2) – This one guy from CASA was intent on showing me his CASA of Maryland ID card. Not a clue why. Maybe because he knows Maryland taxpayers actually fund the ID card and organization. I gave him a HSM business card in return.

Lowlights of the afternoon

(1) Was quite disappointed with the knowledge base and line of reasoning being utilized by the few Georgetown students and other young illegal aliens we met. They just could not hold a conversation and defend the positions provided by CASA, SEIU and the other radical groups. My favorite was that thousands of illegals die trying to cross the “militarized” southern border each year, so therefore we should open the border; My other favorite, Why can’t you just show up in the U.S., get a job and just stay? Why would this make the unemployment situation worse for Black and Hispanic citizens?

I think these Third World youngsters have no conception of the rule of law, economics or basic rights or wrongs. Never taught it in the Third World countries they came from. Certainly hanging out with CASA or SEIU types will not provide it. Sadly, they are the “Dreamers” we give In-State College Tuition to as well as other taxpayer funded social services. These are not the next generation of American leaders we want!

(2) The CASA/SEIU “Jefes” found a Black Preacher to get up on the stage and rant about how Amnesty for illegals is the next Civil Rights movement in the United States. Yikes. More than half the small crowd had no idea what he was saying since he spoke in English. He obviously came for the CASA of Maryland provided boxed lunch. Did have on a nice black beret similar to what Che Guevara wore from time to time!

#2Million2Many: Photos and Videos From All Over Country

Fear-Mongering Breitbart Video Leads to Rep. Steve King Telling DREAMers to Go Back to Tijuana

Let the fear-mongering begin. The following “news” (cue dramatic music) by faux outlet Breitbart has American’s Favorite Pendejo, Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R), talking ignorance. Again.


Here is the “shocking” video:

Here is what King told Breitbart (we emphasized the big nugget for you):

If we’re going to put out the bait, which is: come into the U.S., break in, so to speak, smuggle yourself into the military, put on the uniform of the United States, take an oath to uphold our Constitution, which may or may not mean anything to them, and now we’re going to reward you with citizenship—I think it’s just a bizarre thing to do, to reward people for breaking our laws. That’s what amnesty is.

As soon as they raise their hand and say ‘I’m unlawfully present in the United States,’ we’re not going take your oath into the military, but we’re going to take your deposition and we have a bus for you to Tijuana. That’s the law. Are they going to then suspend the law that requires ICE to place people into removal proceedings that are unlawfully present?

Maybe Steve King should read up on his history, especially when it comes to the Iraq War. Guess who was one the first people to die in combat for people like King? Read who here.

As for those Republicans who are kind of trying, keep trying. People like King are just bad for América.