For Immediate Release 5/4/2017
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has instructed her prosecutors to strongly consider their prosecutorial discretion when handling minor, non-violent criminal cases involving immigrant victims, witness and defendants.
“As the current administration in Washington continues to increase its efforts to enforce immigration laws, we as prosecutors are the torch-bearers of justice in this city, thereby we must utilize our prosecutorial discretion as we do in every case by considering the unintended collateral consequences that our decisions have on our immigrant population,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Similar policies have been adopted by other jurisdictions around the country including Brooklyn, New York.
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “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.”
The Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City is still prioritizing public safety with this directive only pertaining to minor, non-violent crimes such as trespassing, loitering, minor drug possession, and petty theft.
“This instruction is just to ensure that there are only minor consequences for minor crimes and we continue to support all of our victims and witnesses,” Chief Deputy Schatzow said. “Victims without residency issues are already apprehensive to come forward and report crimes – adding this layer of fear to immigrant victims and witnesses will affect our ability to successfully prosecute crimes and only make them more reluctant to come forth.”
There are positive correlations found between the quality of life and those metropolitan areas that are sensitive to immigrant deportation and legal issues.
According to the report by the Center for American Progress, titled “The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and Economy,” utilizing such discretion in so-called sanctuary jurisdictions help to drive down crime, strengthen the economy, and stabilize families. Moreover, the report by Tom K. Wong finds that victims and witnesses of crimes who are often apprehensive about participating in the process are more inclined to come forward to report crimes and testify in court compared to non-sanctuary jurisdictions.
Local community organizations that support and advocate for the needs non-citizen and immigrant population applaud State’s Attorney Mosby’s efforts.
“I commend State’s Attorney Mosby for acknowledging and responding to the needs of our local immigrant population during uncertain and frightening times,” said Elizabeth Alex, Regional Director of CASA Baltimore. “Immigrants come with hopes and aspirations of realizing all of the opportunities that living in Baltimore can afford them and contribute immensely to our local economy. The threat of being deported for a misdemeanor or by meeting their civic responsibility by reporting a crime is not only a tragedy for their family but can have a negative impact on our local economy.”
Foreign-born residents of Baltimore City have been a priority for the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City under the Mosby Administration. The Office has a Community Liaison dedicated to supporting issues within the immigrant and ethnic minority communities, and supported The Maryland Trust Act in the 2017 state legislative session which attempted to clarify the parameters of state and local participation in federal civil immigration enforcement efforts to ensure that state agencies do not contribute to federal attempts to discriminate on the basis of faith, national origin, sexual orientation, and more.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to break down barriers of distrust among law enforcement and various communities; therefore, we hope to continue to be a city where victims and witnesses, regardless of the immigration status, feel more inclined to participate in the judicial process,” continued State’s Attorney Mosby.