Brooklyn DA will work to prevent immigrants from being deported over minor crimes

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BROOKLYN — Prosecutors in Brooklyn will adopt a policy of sentencing recommendations aimed at keeping immigrants from being deported for minor crimes.

Immigrants have faced increased deportation concerns since President Donald Trump took office. Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez' announcement comes just days after the U.S. Justice Department again threatened to cut funding from sanctuary cities.

"Now more than ever, we must ensure that a conviction, especially for a minor offense, does not lead to unintended and severe consequences like deportation, which can be unfair, tear families apart and destabilize our communities and businesses," Eric Gonzalez said.

Immigrations and Custom Enforcement has come under some fire in recent months after ICE officers arrested undocumented immigrants at courthouses.

Non-citizen defendants, including green card holders, refugees, and students studying on visa, can face deportation for misdemeanors like jumping a turnstile. The crimes will still be prosecuted, but Gonzalez wants to ensure the case outcomes are proportionate to the offense.

The determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, Gonzalez said. Employees of the District Attorney's office must flag a defendant’s possible non-citizen status and note that immigration consequences may be an issue in the case.

Plea offers and sentencing recommendations will take immigration status into account. The office has hired two immigration attorneys who will train staff.

“I want to emphasize that our Office is not seeking to frustrate the federal government’s function of protecting our country by removing non-citizens whose illegal acts have caused real harm and endangered others," Gonzalez said. "We will not stop prosecuting crimes, but we are determined to see that case outcomes are proportionate to the offense as well as fair and just for everyone.”