A drug conviction may mean serious trouble for anyone who receives one. Yet, if you are living in or around Washington, D.C., as a legal permanent resident or another type of noncitizen, the stakes may prove even higher. Any type of drug conviction, regardless of its severity, may lead to detention and/or deportation. You may, too, not be able to ever reenter the United States following deportation.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug violation may mean you must return to your country of origin, even if you have no family, career prospects or other ties in that nation.
Drug-related deportation statistics
How often do noncitizens face deportation in the wake of drug offenses? Research shows that drug-related deportations are rising rapidly across the nation, increasing by 43% between 2007 and 2012. Within that span, the United States deported more than 250,000 people on account of drug violations. Many of those drug violations were not necessarily severe in nature.
Many people who underwent deportation because of drug violations received violations for possessing small, personal amounts of marijuana. Simple marijuana possession was the fourth-most-common cause of deportation in 2013. It was also the most common cause of drug-related deportation that year. In 2012 and 2013, more than 13,000 individuals underwent deportation for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
You may face an elevated chance of being the target of drug enforcement efforts if you are a minority. Research shows that minorities face higher drug-related arrest and deportation rates. However, this is not due to a higher prevalence of drug use among minority populations. Instead, it is the result of law enforcement agencies often focusing their efforts on urban areas that are home to large minority populations.