According to a new order, prosecutors in Los Angeles County are required to consider the impact of their charging judgments on the immigration status of suspects. They are strongly encouraged to seek diversion programs to help prevent deportations.
This is only the latest in a series of innovative steps taken by District Attorney George Gascon to modernize the administration of justice at the country’s most prominent district attorney’s office.
The policy states that non-conviction options, such as not charging for criminal enhancements that can significantly increase one’s prison sentence and “turn an otherwise immigration-neutral offense into an immigration damaging one,” should be considered before a conviction is pursued.
According to Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association for Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles County, “that’s effectively saying, ‘We’re going to give you a pass because you used a gun,'” as per reports.
Federal immigration agents cannot receive assistance from local prosecutors
Siddall says that it has been standard practice for anyone under criminal investigation to contact the DA’s office and “provide information concerning adverse immigration repercussions” before a case is brought.
The policy states, “When practicable and appropriate, all charging determinations will be made to avoid or reduce the adverse immigration repercussions of a decision.” The alternative to pursuing charges should be sought where it is possible to do so without jeopardizing public safety, as described above.
The policy also notes that pre-trial diversion programs can reduce the likelihood that an individual would be deported or otherwise have their immigration status negatively affected. In the United States, federal immigration agents cannot receive assistance from local prosecutors.
According to the district attorney’s office, the policy is intended to keep the public safe and safeguard immigrants
Communications Director Tiffany Blackwell told, “The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office consulted with our staff, community stakeholders, and immigration experts to craft a comprehensive Immigration policy that protects vulnerable victims and prioritizes safety while attempting to avoid overly punitive consequences for the accused.”
We feel that this has been accomplished, and we will continue to rely on our staff to supply us with facts that will help us decide if alternative sentencing is appropriate. Prosecutors are encouraged to agree with a move to vacate a conviction when the defendant’s immigration status is at stake if it is proven that a different outcome would have been reached had the immigration repercussions been challenged during the initial proceedings.
Siddall, who has been critical of Gascon’s policies on numerous occasions, has stated that the new strategy may be discriminatory toward native-born suspects because they are not at risk of deportation and will not be given the same consideration when charging judgments are made. He explained that this meant preferential treatment of immigrants.
Gascon has been criticized regularly for policies that some believe aid criminals while doing little to increase public safety. In spite of being criticized by crime victims, political and law enforcement authorities, and even his prosecutors, Gascon had remained in office since December 2020, when he was first elected.