Washington state joined more than 40 elected state and local prosecutors Friday in challenging Attorney General William Barr’s bid to give himself more authority in deciding whether to deport immigrants with criminal convictions.
Barr wants to change immigration rules that defer to state and local decisions on criminal cases that may affect whether an immigrant is deported. It’s one of several efforts Barr is making to gain greater authority in deportation cases.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Friday Barr is proposing “makes no sense” because it would ignore the role of state and local courts on immigration determinations.
“Our system of justice allows a court to correct errors in a conviction or a sentence to ensure justice is carried out,” Ferguson said in an email. If a court determined the conviction or sentence was unjust “this rule would allow the Department to ignore the the court’s decision.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says it’s important that authority reside with state and local elected prosecutors because they are in the best position to determine the criminal history of someone under their jurisdiction.
His office, for example, has a unit dedicated to reexamining convictions, an effort that began following reports that a now-retired detective may have falsified information in criminal cases decades ago, but has since expanded. The unit has overturned more than 20 convictions, including that of a green card holder convicted of burglary whose case was overturned because the crime never occurred – and he could have faced deportation because of the conviction.
Gonzalez and the other prosecutors filed a brief with the Justice Department Friday. They include attorneys general from seven states and 36 urban and rural jurisdictions around the country
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