Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Prosecutorial discretion and deportation concerns

While promises have been made to reform deportation policies in the United States, it appears that the Department of Justice is aggressively prosecuting immigrants. These prosecutions may prevent approximately 4,000 fewer immigrants from seeking any protection from deportation.

The majority of the prosecutions are for what is called "illegal reentry." This appears to indicate that tremendous resources are being utilized against these individuals who are often only wishing to be reunited with their families. These individuals are facing prosecution while more serious crimes are not being addressed. It has been suggested that this is the case because the reentry cases are easier for the prosecutors to win.

The number of prosecutions for illegal reentry does seem to have been reduced since 2010. Still, these sorts of cases appear to involve the majority of immigration cases that are filed.

There is a great deal of prosecutorial discretion in deciding who should face charges that could lead to deportation. This type of discretion, however, can lead to uneven results. Though prosecutors may not have the option to charge these immigrants, those located along the border will more likely charge these individuals.

Unfortunately, we are dealing with a group of people who often have been longtime residents of the U.S. and who have not had any prior problems with law enforcement authorities. Also, the enforcement of borders has not always been consistent. For example, border agents in Southern California have been less prone to report immigrants to federal prosecutors than agents in certain other areas of the country.

Care needs to be taken when negotiating with prosecutors. A guilty plea for illegal reentry could eliminate any chance of receiving relief from deportation. If faced with such circumstances, please speak to an experienced immigration attorney to discover your legal options before making any concessions with these prosecutors.


Source: Vox, "The government is prosecuting the immigrants Obama promised to help," Dara Lind, May 15, 2014

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