State Prosecutors Go Easy on Alien Criminals to Avert “Collateral Immigration Consequences”
MAY 04, 2017
In the last few weeks prosecutors in two major U.S. cities have ordered staff not to charge illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes because it could get the offenders deported. You can’t make this stuff up. Officials elected by law-abiding citizens to protect, defend, uphold and enforce criminal laws are bending the rules to protect those in the country illegally. This is a huge step beyond offering illegal aliens sanctuary and constitutes a violation of the oath these public officials have taken.
Brooklyn, New York District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was the first to issue the order creating two sets of rules involving local crimes. The goal, according to a statement issued by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, is “minimizing collateral immigration consequences of criminal convictions.” Taxpayers in the busy New York City borough are also paying for two immigration attorneys to train all staff on immigration issues and advise prosecutors when making plea offers and sentencing recommendations. The idea is to avoid “disproportionate collateral consequences, such as deportation, while maintaining public safety.” Gonzalez, the Brooklyn District Attorney, says he’s committed to equal and fair justice for all Brooklyn residents—citizens, lawful residents and undocumented immigrants alike.
Brooklyn’s chief prosecutor insists that this outrageous new policy doesn’t compromise but rather compliments his agency’s goal of enhancing public safety and fairness in the criminal justice system. Under the old system in which all violators of state crimes were treated equally undocumented immigrants faced harsh immigration penalties as a result of criminal convictions, Gonzalez said, even for minor offenses. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that a conviction, especially for a minor offense, does not lead to unintended and severe consequences like deportation, which can be unfair, tear families apart and destabilize our communities and businesses,” Gonzalez said. “In Brooklyn, we have been proactive in protecting immigrants from fraud and hate crimes and now, with the unprecedented hiring of immigration attorneys and the implementation of this policy, we continue to lead on this important issue.” The head of a local open borders group celebrated the new rules, asserting that “misdemeanors and low-level offenses often trap immigrants who are unfamiliar with the legal process and potentially expose them to harsh double punishment of being deported and ripped from their families.”
Under Brooklyn’s new policy lawyers in the prosecutor’s office may consider “alternative offenses the defendant can plead to as well as reasonable modifications to the sentence recommendation.” As an example, the District Attorney’s directive says that a plea to a misdemeanor trespass may be offered instead of a misdemeanor drug offense. Illegal aliens may also be offered a plea for a lesser offense “in light of the disproportionate immigration consequences a higher level offense may result in,” according to the new rules. The District Attorney’s office recognizes however, that there “may be times when crafting an immigration-neutral disposition would be very difficult and there may be stumbling blocks that cannot be overcome in certain cases.” At the end of the new policy document, the office charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes to improve public safety recognizes that many violent felonies come attached with “inevitable” collateral immigration consequences.
A few weeks after Brooklyn proudly disclosed its policy, prosecutors in Maryland’s largest city joined the bandwagon, albeit more quietly. There was no public announcement or celebratory press conference but a local newspaper got ahold of an internal memo sent by Baltimore’s Chief Deputy State’s Attorney instructing prosecutors to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes. The chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, used similar language in the memo, writing that the Trump administration’s deportation efforts “have increased the potential collateral consequences to certain immigrants of minor, non-violent criminal conduct.” Schatzow is second-in-command to Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, and oversees major crimes at the state agency. “In considering the appropriate disposition of a minor, non-violent criminal case, please be certain to consider those potential consequences to the victim, witnesses, and the defendant,” Schatzow wrote to his staff.
Besides Baltimore, two Maryland counties—Montgomery and Prince George’s—offer illegal immigrants sanctuary. Earlier this year, in response to the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh reiterated that police and other public agencies in her city never ask about immigration status. “We are a welcoming city,” the mayor said in a local news report “We want everyone here. We want to be able to provide opportunities and jobs and careers for folks. That’s where we are in Baltimore.” This year Maryland legislators tried to pass a measure to make the state an official illegal alien sanctuary but the bill, known as the Trust Act, hit a roadblock in a Senate committee after passing in the House of Delegates and the governor has vowed to veto it even if it survives.
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