PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia’s district attorney on Thursday announced the creation of a new position to protect immigrants trying to navigate the city’s criminal justice system.
Larry Krasner said the idea is not to let anyone get away with crimes but to help people move through the system without facing “disproportionate consequences,” like deportation, because of their status.
“Together, will ensure that all people are treated fairly by the justice system regardless of their immigration status,” Krasner said. “This is also part of our overall effort to protect the most vulnerable and ensure they are able participate as witnesses or complainants in the criminal justice system.”
Former immigration attorney Caleb U. Arnold was named to the position. Part of Arnold’s work will be to help build relationships with immigrant communities to ensure that witnesses and victims feel safe participating in the process regardless of immigration status.
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Arnold also will advise prosecutors on minimizing the impact of criminal convictions on immigration status, especially for low-level offenders who pose no threat to public safety.
Krasner said he was introduced to the idea of appointing immigration counsel when visiting with Brooklyn’s District Attorney Eric Gonzalez last year. Gonzalez implemented a similar policy in Brooklyn, which has helped 200 cases so far to reach “immigration-neutral outcomes,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
That success “proves that greater equity does not jeopardize public safety,” Gonzalez said. “In the face of misguided federal policies, we need more local prosecutors who are willing to take a stand and do what’s right.”
During the district attorney’s race last year, Krasner vowed to stop Republican President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
The city has been standing its ground in the Trump administration’s promised crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities” like Philadelphia, despite possible financial risks.