How The Drug War Helps Fuel Mass Deportation

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The drug war is doing its part to fuel mass deportation, according to a study released last week.

An average of more than 41,000 people with drug offenses on their records were deported each year between the 2008 and 2013 fiscal years, according to an analysis of deportation records by the Transactional Records Clearinghouse Access at Syracuse University.

Drug offenses accounted for 11.2 percent of deportee criminal convictions in 2013, the TRAC study shows. Over the six-year period covered by the study, 247,513 drug offenders were deported.

Possessing weed was the fourth most common criminal offense among deportees over the last two fiscal years, after illegal entry, driving under the influence of alcohol and unclassified traffic offenses. Some 6,770 deportees had marijuana possession on their records, accounting for 16 percent of total drug offenses. Recreational marijuana use is legal in two U.S. states.

Only 5.3 percent of deported drug offenders were convicted of drug trafficking.

TRAC obtained the deportation data through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests.

Deportations have skyrocketed under President Barack Obama, whose administration has angered immigrant rights activists and Hispanic politicians by setting a record for expelling people from the country. His administration says it has focused its efforts in recent years on deporting those with criminal records.

But critics have questioned whether some of the crimes the Obama administration uses to prioritize deportation make sense, often citing people with otherwise clean records who face deportation proceedings over traffic violations.

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