A recent poll finds most Latinos in California view drug possession, especially marijuana possession, as an illegitimate reason for deporting undocumented immigrants.
The poll was released July 25 by Presente.org.
“Latinos believe that the war on drugs is a failure and that our sentencing system is broken,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org. “Families shouldn’t be torn apart over marijuana possession.”
According to pollsters, Latino views on marijuana reform have changed as dramatically as cannabis law and immigration policies.
Almost two third of California Latinos, 64 percent, don’t think someone should be deported for small amounts of marijuana. A slightly smaller majority, 60 percent, said immigrants shouldn’t be deported for simple possession of any drug.
“It’s time to enact common sense policies and stop wasting money over minor marijuana possession charges,” Carmona said. “It’s time to stop allowing the justice system to prey on America’s most vulnerable residents. We need reasonable and responsible drug sentencing reform that ends the war on communities of color.”
Latinos suffer the collateral damage of the war on drugs more than most people. They’re jailed for drug possession more often than members of any other American ethnic group, even though they use less weed than white and black Americans.
“A lesser known effect of the drug war, however, is its impact on immigrants,” the groups behind the poll said in a statement. “Deportation policies tear undocumented families apart for marijuana possession.”
Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions, one of those groups, said the results of the poll prove lawmakers need to reform both immigration and drug laws.
“A clear majority of Latinos oppose deportation for minor drug infractions, especially as the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana becomes more popular at the state level,” Barreto said.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Conela, is an opponent of legalization yet said he agrees with poll respondents.
“Latinos and all undocumented individuals engaged in serious crimes should be deported and disqualified from legalization opportunities once reform passes,” Rodriguez said. “The possession of marijuana does not qualify as a serious crime. Although I do not favor the legalization of marijuana, I am likewise opposed to laws that incarcerate young men and women in a disproportionate rate for possession.”
The poll should be ominous news to legalization opponents. Latinos are now the largest ethnic group in the United States, and their growing presence makes them an increasing power in politics.