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New Proposed Justice Department Rule Aims to Deny Asylum for People with Minor Drug Convictions

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Rule Would Even Penalize Those with Convictions that Have Been Expunged or Modified

December 19, 2019 – New York, NY – In response to Attorney General William Barr’s issuance on Thursday of a proposed new rule to bar a grant of asylum to any applicants convicted of minor drug offenses, even when the prior conviction has been expunged or modified, Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued the following statement:

“The Trump Administration is once again using the failed drug war as an excuse to punish extremely vulnerable people–in this case, refugees from other countries who in many cases may themselves be victims of drug war-related violence and abuse. If the administration really wants to further public health and security, instead of just fueling stigma and punishment, it should focus on reducing the role of punishment as a response to drugs, building out access to voluntary treatment and other forms of support for those who need it, and rolling back the prohibitionist policies that help to generate so much violence and corruption abroad.”


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

Matt Sutton, 212-613-8026

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