On Thursday, the Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow sent a memo to all staff, reacting to the Trump’s administration’s tougher immigration enforcement. Prosecutors were warned about charging illegal immigrants with minor crimes.
“In considering the appropriate disposition of a minor, non-violent criminal case, please be certain to consider those potential consequences to the victim, witnesses, and the defendant,” Schatzow wrote.
Trump’s administration’s Justice Department has prioritized the enforcement of immigration laws. Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly criticizes the “filth” brought on by criminal organizations and drug cartels, pushing for more immigration prosecutions.
In February, the Homeland Security Department sent out memos saying immigrants in the United States illegally suspected, charged or convicted of any offense will be an enforcement priority.
A Baltimore regional director for CASA de Maryland, Elizabeth Alex, said immigrants and their families are fearful of engaging in court processes. Alex went on to say that Baltimore prosecutors are doing the right thing, when they include immigration status in deciding how to deal with a case.
The only Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, U.S. Representative Andy Harris, said it is “a real shame that the State Attorney’s office is unwilling to enforce the law against illegal aliens, who commit crimes in the United States.”
On Friday, Sessions publicly criticized all district attorneys that “openly brag about not charging cases appropriately – giving special treatment to illegal aliens to ensure these criminal aliens aren’t department from their communities.
“They advertise that they will charge a criminal alien with a lesser offense than presumably they would charge a United States citizen. It baffles me,” Sessions said.
Earlier this week, the Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez issued similar instruction to prosecutors, along with officially announcing that he is seeking election to a full term.
Under the Trump administration, sanctuary cities face federal funding cuts. However, Mayor Catherine Pugh denies that Baltimore is a sanctuary city simply because it does not operate its own jail, therefore it cannot make decisions on whether to hold people that are charged with immigration crimes.