The Brooklyn district attorney’s office has crafted a policy that aims to avoid the deportation or detention of immigrants charged with certain misdemeanors or nonviolent crimes. As the New York Times reports, the initiative asks Brooklyn prosecutors to inform defense lawyers about the potential immigration consequences of their clients’ cases and to prosecute foreign-born defendants with an “immigration-neutral disposition,” while not compromising public safety.
“Naturalized citizens, lawful residents and undocumented immigrants, they are all integral to our local economy and vibrant culture,” the policy says. “This office is unflaggingly committed to equal and fair justice for all the people of Brooklyn, and that unquestionably includes our immigrant population no less than any other.”
In the coming weeks, the district attorney’s office plans to hire two immigration lawyers to instruct prosecutors in the relevant laws and to consultant on individual cases.
“We don’t want to destroy communities or tear people away from their families for low-level offenses,” said Eric Gonzalez, the acting Brooklyn district attorney. “If someone confronts a guilty plea that would automatically subject them to a harsh immigration penalty. If 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.”
The initiative, crafted with the support of advocates from the New York Immigration Coalition, arrives at a moment of increased tension between the Trump administration and local law enforcement authorities of so-called sanctuary cities. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department stated that New York City, “continues to see gang murder after gang murder” because of its “soft on crime” stance.
In reality, the city’s violent crime levels have been the lowest in decades.