New immigration enforcement directive will hurt hard-working people

BOSTON, April 12, 2017 – Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a new memo to all federal prosecutors calling for an increase in criminal immigration enforcement, to focus on what the U.S. Department of Justice described as “particular offenses that, if aggressively charged and prosecuted, can help prevent and deter illegal immigration”.

Immigration already factors into 52% of all federal criminal prosecutions, and 7 of the top 10 crimes that are brought in federal court are immigration related crimes. Similarly, the majority of federal law enforcement dollars are already spent on immigration enforcement agencies.

“It is unfortunate that the Attorney General continues to focus resources on deporting and frightening immigrants, even though his stated goal is to make America safer,” said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “Immigrants who are charged with crimes are already referred to immigration authorities, so this stepped-up enforcement will only punish hard-working people trying to raise their families in America.”

“Prosecutors have limited resources, so this means they’ll now have even less time to prosecute violent offenders,” she added. “We already saw that happen when the Obama administration focused on misdemeanor immigration offenses. This administration’s approach will only make Americans less safe.”

Much like previous memos by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this memo purports to prioritize limited government resources on those who pose a danger to the community. Unfortunately, as with the DHS memos, a close reading of yesterday’s memo shows it actually takes away any and all priorities.

“There is a big disconnect between the administration’s language and its actions,” Millona said. “Prosecutors have limited time and resources, and they need to be used wisely. Focusing on people who pose no harm is bad policy.”