A War on Drugs or a War on Immigrants? Expanding the Definition of 'Drug Trafficking' in Determining Aggravated Felon Status for Non-Citizens

42 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2005 Last revised: 27 Oct 2008

Jeff Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science

Gabriel "Jack" Chin

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Todd A. Collins

Western Carolina University - Political Science

Abstract

In this article we assess competing interpretations of the Immigration and Nationalization Act's 'aggravated felony' provisions, specifically the determination of what state drug offenses properly constitute 'aggravated felonies,' thus subjecting non-citizens to deleterious collateral immigration consequences, including deportation. This issue is considered within the broader political and social context of the nation's 'war on drugs' and wide-ranging trends in American immigration policy. We argue that state drug offenses should be analogous to the traditional federal characterizations of a felony (i.e. yielding more than a year of imprisonment) in order to be appropriately considered aggravated felonies. We conclude that interpretations of the aggravated felony provisions that allow offenses falling below this threshold to be considered aggravated felonies are misguided, lead to unwarranted collateral immigration consequences for non-citizens, and fit within a broader pattern of inordinate burden sharing in the war on drugs by historically disempowered groups.

Keywords: Immigration, crime, criminal, aggravated felony, felony, alien, deportation, drugs, narcotics, prosecution, public policy, law, legal, economic, states, statutory interpretation, constitutional, federalism, war, equity, president, congress, politics, racial, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Yates, Jeff and Chin, Gabriel "Jack" and Collins, Todd A., A War on Drugs or a War on Immigrants? Expanding the Definition of 'Drug Trafficking' in Determining Aggravated Felon Status for Non-Citizens. Maryland Law Review, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=774866

Jeff L. Yates (Contact Author)

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States
607-777-2296 (Phone)

Gabriel Jackson Chin

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
400 Mrak Hall Dr.
Davis, CA 95616-5201
United States
520-401-6586 (Phone)
530-754-5311 (Fax)

Todd A. Collins

Western Carolina University - Political Science ( email )

United States

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