His office will officially hire two immigration attorneys to train all staffers on immigration issues as the first step to implementing a new policy.
“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,” Gonzalez said.
There are several factors that determine how a conviction can have additional consequences for non-citizens, including the nature of the crime, how long they have been in the United States, and prior convictions.
Since the law is extremely complex, there’s not a simple set of guidelines the DA’s office can follow.
The new office police instructs that all staff to consider a defendant's present and future immigration status when considering sentencing. It will allow consider offering guilty pleas to alternative offenses that would not result in deportation.
For example, a plea to a misdemeanor trespass may be offered when appropriate instead of a misdemeanor drug offense. Gonzalez argues the new policy does not compromise public safety, but complements it.
“Misdemeanors and low-level offenses often trap immigrants who are unfamiliar with the legal process,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, “and potentially expose them to harsh ‘double punishment’ of being deported and ripped from their families.”