In an effort to protect immigrants who might otherwise be lawfully returned to their home countries for crimes committed in the United States, an increasing number of liberal district attorneys are fighting the law an entirely different way – by offering lesser plea deals that won’t trigger deportation proceedings.
According to a Wall Street Journal report by Corrine Ramey, advocates of the practice see it as a way to protect noncitizens from the consequences of an unfair law.
The rest of us, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, understand that the underlying result ends up treating citizens and noncitizens unequally under the law.
— Paul Nehlen (@pnehlen) July 7, 2017
One of the at least six East and West coast prosecutors engaged in the practice, Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, considers himself a promoter of public safety because “I saw what were, in my opinion, many miscarriages of justice.”
Gonzalez’s office has even brought on two immigration attorneys to conduct staff training on ways to lower the impact convictions have on immigration status.
In Santa Clara County, District Attorney Jeff Rosen says the policy’s critics have subsided as people get used to it. For Rosen, a Haitian man convicted of possessing crack cocaine who is now unable to return to the United States serves as an inspiration.
Now, instead of a criminal possession charge like a regular citizen would get, a green-card holder might plea to a lesser charge like trespassing, which wouldn’t trigger immigration actions.
Jeff Sessions said of the practice: “It troubles me that we’ve seen district attorneys openly brag about not charging cases appropriately under the laws of our country, so that provides an opportunity for individuals not to be convicted of a crime that might lead to deportation.”
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton considers the policies “dangerous and potentially unconstitutional.”
Dangerous and potentially unconstitutional. Sanctuary prosecutors offer pleas to protect aliens from deportation https://t.co/iktFB2Ksr0
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) July 7, 2017
“You don’t give people special treatment for prosecutorial decisions based on country of origin or immigration status,” said Fitton. “The logic here is American citizens might be prosecuted more harshly for the same crimes.”
Largely only practiced in key California districts, such as San Francisco, until recently, the practice has now spread to other places including Baltimore, where Attorney’s Office employees were told back in April to take immigration consequences into account when they prosecute low-level crimes which are nonviolent.
Manhattan is also considering implementing the policy:
“I submit today that if two New Yorkers commit the same low-level violation, and the practical consequence for one of the New Yorkers is a ticket or a couple of days in jail, while the consequence for the other New Yorker is to be taken from her family and shipped off to a foreign country, that is not equal justice under law,” argues District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
In Santa Clara County, 300 to 400 pleas or sentences are modified every year, which amounts to around 1 percent of cases.
How about treating all people the same, like the Constitution says we’re supposed to do, and letting the chips fall where they may?
Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
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