Good News: Prosecutors Look To Treat Illegal Alien Crimes Different From Actual Citizen Crimes

Good News: Prosecutors Look To Treat Illegal Alien Crimes Different From Actual Citizen Crimes

It’s oh-so-special that illegal aliens who commit crimes are potentially being treated differently than if a U.S. citizen commits the same crime. Because the rule of law or something. We can see lawsuits against district attorney’s offices, cities, counties, and states coming

A Deal to Avoid a ‘Life Sentence of Deportation’

The drunken-driving case seemed straightforward, the kind that prosecutors in Seattle convert into a quick guilty plea hundreds of times a year: a swerving car, a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, a first-time offense that caused no injuries.

The only complication was the driver. A 23-year-old undocumented immigrant studying at the University of Washington, she had gained some assurance against deportation through a federal program for people who had entered the country illegally as children. If she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, the punishment any Washington resident might face could be compounded by a more permanent penalty. She could lose her protected status; she could be deported.

Which, for the prosecutor, presented a difficulty: Was this what justice should look like?

Well, yes. The illegal alien in question made a choice to get drunk and then drive. No one forced her to do so. She had to know there would be consequences.

Now that President Trump’s hard line has made deportation a keener threat, a growing number of district attorneys are coming to the same reckoning, concluding that prosecutors should consider potential repercussions for immigrants before closing a plea deal. At the same time, cities and states are reshaping how the criminal justice system treats immigrants, hoping to hopscotch around any unintended immigration pitfalls.

In other words, they are looking to make accommodations that they wouldn’t make for citizens. Or people who are lawfully present in the U.S. on visas.

“There’s certainly a line of argument that says, ‘Nope, we’re not going to consider all your individual circumstances, we want to treat everybody the same,’” said Dan Satterberg, the prosecuting attorney for Seattle and a longtime Republican, who instituted an immigration-consequences policy last year and strengthened it after the presidential election. “But more and more, my eyes are open that treating people the same means that there isn’t a life sentence of deportation that might accompany that conviction.”

With that in mind, his office allowed the student to plead guilty to reckless driving instead of driving under the influence. The deal, which included three days of community service and two years of probation — milder than the standard driving-under-the-influence penalty of 24 hours in jail, a few days’ community service and five years’ probation — did not jeopardize her protected status.

So, every person who was convicted of drunk driving can now sue to have their penalties reduced in Seattle (and, yes, there are some Republicans who are utter squishes on illegal immigration). Interestingly, the Times is actually doing Journalism on this, including exactly the argument I’ve made

If he made accommodations for an immigrant, (county attorney in Cochise County, Ariz) Mr. McIntyre said, he felt that he would also owe a citizen in similar circumstances the same option, “because is he not being, essentially, negatively impacted by his U.S. citizenry?”

Exactly.

But reducing criminal penalties can help immigrants by keeping them out of jail, which can make it more difficult for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to find them, or by preserving their options in immigration court.

In other words, there are games being played with the criminal justice system in order to protect illegal aliens who commit crimes above already being unlawfully present. This is the point where the federal system should jump in and charge prosecutors and district attorneys with things like prosecutorial misconduct and violations of immigration law, such as 8 U.S. 1324, providing shelter to an illegal alien.

Luke Larson, the deputy prosecutor on the case of the Washington State student charged with drunken driving, said several factors favored a milder charge, including her strong academic record and lack of a criminal history.

Something they most likely wouldn’t do for a U.S. citizen. Things like this tend to rear up and bite people in the posterior.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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