Information and Resources
FJP Immigration Brief
Federal immigration law imposes additional — often severe — penalties when a noncitizen receives a criminal conviction, and federal immigration enforcement practices can have a chilling effect on crime reporting and victim engagement. This FJP “Issues at a Glance” brief discusses the prosecutor’s role in addressing federal immigration consequences and advancing strategies aimed at preserving community trust and ensuring a justice system grounded in equity and compassion.
“The Prosecutor’s Role in the Current Immigration Landscape”
As deportations are increasingly triggered by minor convictions and immigration enforcement efforts are expanding, there is mounting anxiety and distrust within the immigrant community. Prosecutors need to be acutely aware of these concerns. This article discusses immigration consequences – often unintended — that flow from criminal convictions; explores the ways in which federal immigration policies and consequences raise community trust and safety concerns; and provides suggestions for prosecutors interested in engaging in this issue moving forward.
“[Lawyers] should know what happens after a prisoner is taken away” to better understand “the hidden world of punishment.”
— Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Supreme Court of the United States
Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Leaders File Amicus Briefs Pushing Back Against Local Entanglement in Federal Immigration Enforcement
City and County of San Francisco v. Trump and County of Santa Clara v. Trump Litigation – Nearly 40 elected DAs, State Attorneys, Police Chiefs and Sheriffs from around the nation filed an Amicus Brief challenging federal efforts to impose immigration enforcement conditions on localities. The brief argues that an Executive Order which seeks to strip federal funding from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” threatens to undermine community policing efforts designed to build trust with immigrant populations. The brief also notes that detention of individuals under ICE detainers who would otherwise be released from custody has been found by federal courts across the country to violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
”Community trust and cooperation are essential to public safety, and sound police work as well as successful prosecutors’ efforts are undermined by undocumented immigrants’ fears of interacting with law enforcement and the justice system.”
Los Angeles v. Sessions Litigation – Over 30 elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders filed an amicus brief supporting a federal lawsuit by the city of Los Angeles challenging the Justice Department’s decision to show preferential treatment in awarding COPS grants – a crucial resource for community policing – to cities that pledge assistance with federal immigration enforcement. Read the press release here and the Amicus Brief here.
Chicago v. Sessions Litigation – Twenty-three prominent elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders filed a brief challenging federal grant conditions that seek to involve local law enforcement in immigration enforcement duties. Read the press release here and the Amicus Brief here.
“Too Big to Succeed: The Impact of the Growth of Community Corrections and What Should be Done About It”
A new report from the Columbia University Justice Lab looks at concerns associated with the exponential growth of probation and parole, with nearly five million adults in the U.S. now under community corrections supervision. Click here to read the report.
“For a New Breed of Prosecutors, Justice Sometimes Entails a Second Chance”
People seeking to turn their lives around should not be forever defined by the worst thing they have done. King County (Seattle, WA) District Attorney Dan Satterberg speaks out about pursuing clemency for people with long criminal sentences imposed under Washington’s three strikes laws and Wyandotte County (Kansas City, KS) District Attorney Mark Dupree talks about the importance of second chances. Read more here.
Addressing Immigration Issues
A group of California elected prosecutors wrote Attorney General Sessions objecting to immigration arrests in and around California courthouses. Read more here.
Denver officials, including Denver (CO) District Attorney Beth McCann, wrote to U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement requesting that ICE avoid enforcement activities at sensitive locations including courts and schools. Read more here.
“Crackdown on Immigrants Undermines Public Safety”
King County (Seattle, WA) Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg writes about how invasive immigration enforcement erodes trust between communities and the police and prosecutors that serve them. Read more here.
“Prosecutors Protect Immigrants from Deportation for Minor Crimes”
NPR interviews Brooklyn (NY) Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez about his policy on prosecuting immigrants for misdemeanors and his reaction to AG Sessions’ directive to federal prosecutors. Listen here.
“Boulder’s Strategies To Protect Immigrants From Fraud Could Go Statewide”
In an NPR interview, Boulder County (CO) District Attorney Stan Garnett discusses his efforts to protect immigrants from fraud and victimization. Listen here.
Examples of Innovation
Albany Clean Slate Programs
Albany County (NY) District Attorney David Soares launched a series of programs providing diversion, re-entry services, and expungement for eligible youth with felony convictions. Read more here.
Addressing Immigration Consequences
Brooklyn (NY) Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced that deputies will take into account immigration consequences for noncitizens when selecting charges; Brooklyn office also hired immigration advocates. Read more here and here.
Policy changes by Brooklyn (NY) Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Santa Clara County (San Jose, CA) District Attorney Jeff Rosen, and Baltimore City (MD) State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby account for how low-level convictions may impact an individual’s risk of deportation. Read more here.
San Francisco (CA) District Attorney George Gascón talks about how the justice system often misses the mark when it comes to rehabilitation and how his office is working to change that through engagement with incarcerated individuals. Read more here.
Dismissing Old Warrants
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez joined other New York prosecutors in dismissing nearly 700,000 warrants for low-level offenses. Read more here.