Joint Statement from DPA, LatinoJustice & ILRC – New Study: Deportation or Detainment of Friends & Family Strongly Associated with Increased Incidence of Substance Use Disorder Among US Citizen Latinx Populations

Press Release January 16, 2020
Media Contact

Matt Sutton, 212-613-8026
[email protected]

Washington, D.C. – In response to a new study showing that Latinx people who know someone who has been detained or deported to be significantly more likely to experience symptoms of substance use disorder than whites, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), LatinoJustice and Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) issued the following joint statement: 

Maritza Perez, Director, Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance:

“This vital research highlights the fact that we need to remove drug use from the harmful and racially-enforced apparatus of the criminal justice system and instead invest in public health programs and increased access to evidence-based treatment for all. The devastating consequences of draconian immigration enforcement, of families being torn apart, have taken a heavy toll on the loved ones left behind. It is more important than ever before that we redirect our energy and resources towards health-centered approaches that address these issues before we see a new wave of casualties from not only the failed war on drugs, but also our failed immigration policies.”

Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice

“For years LatinoJustice has highlighted the fact that the war on drugs has devastating consequences on Latinx immigrants. Drug possession, especially marijuana possession, continues to drive deportation rates, unnecessarily and discriminatorily. Now a rigorous study on the health effects of deportations on Latino families proves that deportations themselves have serious consequences on the health of the families the deportees leave behind. Those remaining family members are more likely to use alcohol and engage in drug use disorder behaviors than their white or black counterparts. Both of these phenomena demand an urgent response – one that recognizes that both deportations and the War on Drugs must end.”

Sameera Hafiz, Policy Director at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
“This study shows how callous immigration policies have devastating effects, not only for deportees, but also for the friends and family they are forced to leave behind. To create healthy and thriving communities, we must do more than fight back against detention and deportations; we must also channel resources towards programs that will heal the communities of color our country’s racist and failed immigration policies have already harmed.”


About Drug Policy Alliance
The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at

About LatinoJustice
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit

About Immigrant Legal Resource Center
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC works to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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