By Jessica Weisman
LOS ANGELES, CA – District Attorney of Los Angeles George Gascón released a directive for the office’s immigration policy late last week to ensure “immigration consequences” would not “be a barrier to justice for victims.”
District Attorney Gascón explained the update seeks “to take necessary measures to respect and uphold the rights of immigrant communities, actively pursue protections for immigrant victims of crime, and bring parity between the punishments meted out by the criminal legal system and those that will follow in the immigration system.”
Gascón highlighted the work of “The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVP)” that ensures the safety of communities by “minimizing adverse immigration consequences for immigrant victims.”
The DA explained part of the immigration process will now contain a memorandum for “analyzing the appropriate response and the applicability of U Visa requirements,” and will establish guidelines for the handling applications for U, T, and S visas for immigrant victims and witnesses.
This extends to considering the immigration consequences of plea agreements, and elevating the issue as part of the plea agreement policies already established.
District Attorney Gascón also noted the emphasis this new policy has on promoting public safety alongside trust for immigrant victims of crime in the justice system.
The goal, he said, is to minimize immigration consequences for immigrant victims of crime, as well as to reaffirm protections for these communities.
“Expanding access to pretrial diversion programs” and “pre-arrest, pre-charge, and pre-plea diversion programs” are both elements this new immigration policy update seeks to uphold and recommend, said the DA.
Gascón detailed a comprehensive plan for plea bargaining and post-conviction relief, as well as providing information on how information is to be shared with federal immigration authorities.
Overall, this update of the District Attorney’s policy on immigration is, said Gascón, dedicated to protecting immigrant victims of crimes, upholding the legitimacy of the justice system, and ensuring a safe community for all those involved.