Immigrant Rights Advocates Support Legalization of Cannabis

NEW JERSEY--  The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice released the following statement in support of legalization of cannabis:

"Immigrants’ rights and racial justice issues are often perceived as separate. They are not. We are all negatively impacted by the unfair criminal justice system that separates families through incarceration and deportation. In recognition of our shared interests in reforming criminal justice policies that hurt families and communities, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice stands with our brothers and sisters advocating for the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey.

"Our immigrant communities include people of color, who are disproportionately arrested for cannabis offenses. Statewide, blacks are 3 times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis possession. In many cities, they are more than 10 times more likely to be arrested. Latinos are similarly impacted. In 2013, Latinos in Jersey City were 3 times more likely to be arrested than whites; in Millville, they were 6 times more likely to be arrested.

"Convictions for a minor drug offense have significant and lasting effects on immigrants’ lives. These penalties include detention by immigration authorities for months or years, the loss of “green cards,” ineligibility to apply for lawful immigration status, and deportation that causes permanent family separation.

"Too many immigrants’ lives have been derailed by New Jersey’s prohibition laws. As immigrants’ rights advocates, we understand what it is like to fight against the criminalization of our communities by a policy rooted in bias and discrimination. We support the efforts to end prohibition and insist that our communities be permitted to participate in the new economy created while ensuring those who have been criminalized are finally free of unjust burdens resulting from our failed drug policies."