Brooklyn DA Changes Prosecution Rules To Protect Illegal Immigrants

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Brooklyn district attorney’s office announced Monday it will implement new prosecution guidelines in order to shield illegal immigrants accused of minor crimes from deportation proceedings.

The new policy instructs Brooklyn prosecutors to notify defense attorneys of the immigration consequences of their cases and to attempt to avoid, when possible, bringing charges that would lead to deportation.

Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who is seeking the DA job in elections this fall, says his office will be able achieve an “immigration neutral disposition” in its prosecutions without compromising public safety, the New York Times reported.

“We don’t want to destroy communities or tear people away from their families for low-level offenses,” Gonzalez said. “If someone confronts a guilty plea that would automatically subject them to a harsh immigration penalty and there’s another possible plea that would hold them accountable and ensure public safety, justice demands they be given the one that doesn’t have immigration consequences.”

Brooklyn’s new prosecution rules are the city’s latest move to shield illegal aliens and legal permanent residents who are convicted of local crimes from facing a federal immigration response. The policy orders prosecutors make plea deals that will result in convictions for lesser crimes that wouldn’t normally qualify as grounds for deportation.

The guidelines come amid renewed threats by the Trump administration to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities. The Department of Justice on Friday sent letters to nine jurisdictions, including New York City, demanding compliance with parts of the federal immigration code that prohibit local governments from withholding information about illegal immigrants. (RELATED: Sanctuary Cities Receive Warning From DOJ)

New York officials immediately blasted the DOJ letter, which specifically called out New York for its “soft on crime” stance. Mayor Bill DeBlasio on Friday called it an “unacceptable” statement that “denigrates the people of New York City and the men and women of the NYPD.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions alluded to the DOJ memo at the San Diego stop of his border tour with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, reminding New York and other sanctuary cities of a June 30 deadline to certify they have brought their policies in line with federal law.

“I urge New York, California, and other jurisdictions to reconsider [sanctuary status],” Sessions said Friday.

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Will Racke