Immigrants that are facing deportation are more and more likely to have their immigration cases thrown out of court due to mitigating circumstances such as having children that are US citizens, an analysis by Syracuse University researchers suggests. In a number of courts, the closure of around 20% of cases involved prosecutorial discretion.
In Los Angeles, across the course of the last two years, 35,000 cases were closed and prosecutorial discretion was involved in around 24% of them, although the rate was only 3.7% in New York and just 1.7% in Houston. Such tallies do not include cases that were resolved before they came to court. John Morton formalized the use of prosecutorial discretion in a memo back in 2011 when he was the director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Morton gave immigration officials the right to take under consideration factors such as the length of time immigrants had lived in the United States, whether they had family members that had served in the military and if they came to the country when they were children, adding that community ties to children, parents and spouses who possessed US citizenship also needed to be considered.
“A high PD court closure rate may be a sign that inadequate review of cases is taking place before officials file an action in court seeking a removal order,” researchers from the Transactional Records Access Clearing House, which is located in Syracuse, wrote.