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Prosecutors Protect Immigrants From Deportation

Prosecutors Protect Immigrants From Deportation

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) story details how some prosecutors across the United States are considering ways to avoid prosecuting certain immigrants for minor crimes. For this group of immigrants, who have no legal immigration status, a single criminal conviction, even for a minor crime, might trigger deportation. Since prosecutors have nearly unlimited discretion in prosecuting individuals and entering into plea bargains to resolve pending criminal cases, many have chosen to use that discretion to protect immigrants from being deported for minor crimes. New York’s acting district attorney, who is also the state’s first Hispanic district attorney, believes that many immigrants who are charged with even a minor crime are facing a sort of double jeopardy that other defendants do not face. In many cases, an immigrant who pleads guilty to a certain type of minor crime ends up being, often years after being convicted and fully serving their sentences. As a result of this injustice, the New York district attorney has instructed the approximately 500 prosecutors under his command to take a defendant’s immigration status into account when negotiating a plea agreement for a minor nonviolent criminal offense. Baltimore prosecutors are operating under the same instructions. And in California, state law requires prosecutors to consider a defendant’s immigration status in plea negotiations, no matter whether the criminal offense is a misdemeanor or a felony. Prosecutors are taking these actions to protect defendants charged with minor crimes despite the sharp criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who claims that some prosecutors are taking the laws into their own hands. Sessions claims that prosecutors are openly bragging about improperly charging defendants in order to avoid deportation as a potential consequence of their criminal convictions. At the same time, Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to pursue harsher charges against those immigrants who are in the United States with no legal status. State prosecutors like the New York acting district attorney described above counter Sessions’ claims, stating that although they might consider a lesser charge against an immigrant defendant, they still will seek a similar sentence, regardless of the crime charged. The Alameda County, California, district attorney says that despite Sessions’ rhetoric, immigration status is only one of many factors that her office considers in plea negotiations. Denver prosecutors, like California and New York district attorneys, are considering how best to protect low-level immigrant offenders. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we are dedicated to protecting the rights of noncitizens while detained and working toward release from detention, regardless of the type of deportation charges an individual may be facing. We know how to evaluate your case, explore your options, and provide you with the strongest defense against removal possible. Contact your California deportation defense attorneys today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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