Security at the US-Mexico border has been a political talking point for years, but it’s become an increasingly divisive issue in the age of Trump. His contentious relationship with Mexico is frequently tied to the moment he announced his presidential bid back in 2015, when he infamously called Mexicans “rapists” and accused them of “bringing drugs and crime” into the United States. That speech was a defining moment for then-candidate Trump, but it went without saying that his comments were rooted in several falsehoods. Now, new data is revealing just how much the president got wrong.
According to newly obtained data from Cannabis Wire and other watchdog reports, it appears that the illegal trafficking of cannabis “is at its lowest point in more than a decade.” What’s more, US Customs and Border Protection is regularly seizing cannabis from US citizens or legal residents more often “than from deportable immigrants.” Cannabis Wire reports that these seizures take place at checkpoints — traffic stops where Border Patrol agents can request an individual’s immigration status — as well as at ports of entry, which includes airports, seaports, and border crossings.
Over the last six years, Customs and Border Patrol has seized less and less cannabis. The “near-consistent annual decrease” would indicate that cannabis flow into the United States from Mexico isn’t quite the catastrophic problem that President Trump has suggested. Perhaps most tellingly, the amount of cannabis agents have seized within the Border Patrol’s southwestern sector “has dropped by about two-thirds” annually. That’s down from more than 2.5 million pounds in fiscal year 2011 to roughly 850,000 in 2017, according to the data. When Washington and Colorado legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, that resulted in “the most significant regular decreases” to date.
Checkpoints, which are intended to provide an additional layer of immigration enforcement, have become hot spots for Border Patrol’s cannabis confiscations. A November 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office shows that 43 percent of its seizures near the southwestern border happen at checkpoints, compared to just 2 percent of the agency’s immigration-related arrests. The report also reveals that Border Patrol agents seizing cannabis from US citizens is relatively routine. Out of all the checkpoint confiscations that took place from 2013 to 2016, about six out of ten involved US citizens having cannabis taken from them. And at least 40 percent of those seizures were of an ounce or less.
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