Brooklyn moves to help minor offenders who are undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation
NEW YORK - The public prosecutor's office in the New York borough of Brooklyn will change the way it deals with minor infractions by undocumented immigrants to lessen their risk of expulsion under the Trump administration, it said Monday.
Brooklyn's acting district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, said in a statement that his office would do everything possible to help those accused of minor crimes "avoid disproportionate collateral consequences such as deportation."
The attorneys in his office will be instructed that when possible, "if an appropriate disposition or sentence recommendation can be offered that neither jeopardizes public safety nor leads to removal or to any other disproportionate collateral consequence," they should recommend that option, Gonzalez said.
Assistant district attorneys are being told to "consider alternative offenses the defendant can plead to"—different from those a citizen might face—as well as "reasonable modifications to the sentence recommendation."
But Gonzalez added that such alternatives should, when possible, "be similar in level of offense and length of sentence to that offered to a citizen defendant."
Gonzalez's announcement was welcomed by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), a non-profit working to defend immigrants' rights, which has denounced Trump administration threats to cut federal funding to cities that fail to cooperate in deporting the undocumented.
But Gonzalez insisted that he was not attempting "to frustrate the federal government's function of protecting our country by removing noncitizens whose illegal acts have caused real harm and endangered others."
He said his office recognized that many felons, and particularly violent felons, would face "appropriate collateral immigration consequences."
Gonzalez's statement was the latest reflection of attempts by the Democratic authorities in New York to resist the Trump administration's tough stance on deporting many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, particularly those with criminal records.
The administration in early April instructed law enforcement officials to be much more stringent in dealing with undocumented immigrants.
New York, the largest US city, is one of 200 "sanctuary" cities that have instructed their police and other municipal employees not to assist federal immigration agents in finding and detaining undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes.
The Trump administration has threatened to cut federal funding to cities that refuse to cooperate.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office is one of the largest in the United States.
Last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo named Gonzalez as acting district attorney to succeed Kenneth Thompson, who had died of cancer. Gonzalez is now seeking election this fall to a full four-year term. —Agence France-Presse