Monday, July 11, 2016
The title of this post is the title of this new paper by Carrie Lynn Rosenbaum now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This paper asserts that state and local marijuana reforms that relax criminal penalties should, but will likely not, benefit Latino/a noncitizens. Because of the intricate relationship between criminal and immigration enforcement, state and local police engagement in racial profiling will not only fail to be eliminated by state-level marijuana reforms but may be exacerbated. As a result, in spite of marijuana law reforms intended to lessen overly punitive penalties stemming from minor marijuana conduct, noncitizen Latino/as will continue to be disproportionately criminally policed and deported.
Scholarly literature addressing the intersection of criminal and immigration law has considered ways in which racial profiling in criminal law enforcement infects the immigration removal process. However, the literature has yet to explore the way in which sub-federal drug law reforms, and specifically, recent marijuana law reforms, will fall short for noncitizen Latino/as because of the way in which racial profiling in criminal law enforcement infects the immigration removal process.
After decades of excessive, punitive, and ineffective policies, particularly in the area of drug law enforcement, states have initiated reforms, including marijuana decriminalization. At the same time that decriminalization measures are being implemented, in the field of immigration law, resources for apprehension, detention and deportation have skyrocketed, with a focus on “criminal aliens.” The criminal-immigration removal system has resulted in local and state law enforcement agents playing a critical, and problematic role in the detection, apprehension, and removal of “criminal aliens.”
The plight of noncitizens deported or found inadmissible based on marijuana-related conduct highlights a deeper, systemic problem. Not only do extremely harsh immigration consequences serve as a double-penalty for potentially minor marijuana offenses, particularly in light of criminal law reforms, but enforcement of remaining marijuana laws will likely fall disproportionately on Latina/o noncitizens. Over ninety percent of deportations arising out of criminal law enforcement are to Central American and Mexico, yet Mexican and Central American immigrants make up less than half of the United States immigrant population.
While decriminalization of marijuana may be more than a symbolic move away from the failed “tough on crime” policies of the past, it not only fails to take into consideration the impact of marijuana laws on noncitizens but also may exacerbate the racially biased aspects of drug law enforcement on noncitizens, particularly Latinos. This Article discusses the ways in which criminal-immigration law enforcement has impacted noncitizens, primarily Latino/as, to demonstrate why sub-federal marijuana reforms will fail to alleviate racially disparate outcomes, perpetually leaving Latino/a noncitizens in the shadows.