Prosecuting Immigrants in a Democracy
Chapter 8 in Prosecutors and Democracy: A Cross-National Study (ed. by Máximo Langer & David Alan Sklansky); pp. 227-49. Cambridge University Press (2017).
Posted: 27 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 25, 2018
The almost unilateral power of the American prosecutor over criminal justice outcomes is a subject of frequent academic commentary. Yet, the expansion of the prosecutor’s power over immigration enforcement has proceeded quietly and garnered far less academic scrutiny. This chapter argues that when immigration enforcement is carried out by criminal prosecutors, the democratic prosecutorial function is threatened. In the United States, an ongoing focus on immigration enforcement against individuals charged with crimes has fostered a separate system of enhanced punishment for immigrants that extends beyond the institutional framework granted to prosecutors by the legislatures that draft the criminal law and the courts that constrain procedural practices. This chapter concludes by offering concrete policy recommendations for disentangling immigration enforcement from prosecutorial decisionmaking, thereby returning the prosecutor to the democratically assigned task of enforcing the criminal law and reinforcing the democratic ideal of equality.
Keywords: Immigration Enforcement, Prosecutorial Discretion, Immigrant Equality, Criminal Justice Reform
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