Policy 2021-12: Policy Regarding Immigration and Immigration-Adjacent Issues
For many people, involvement in the criminal legal system can have cascading adverse consequences. Perhaps the most significant consequences, however, are felt by noncitizens who are involved in the criminal legal system—as crime survivors, witnesses, or defendants.
Noncitizen crime survivors are often among the most vulnerable. Human traffickers, for example, often prey on undocumented persons, knowing that their immigration status makes them less likely to report their traffickers. In addition, many noncitizen crime survivors are reluctant to report violent crimes to the authorities, fearful that local law enforcement may be collaborating with federal immigration authorities.
At the same time, noncitizen criminal defendants often face severe immigration consequences, even for non-violent crimes. Hundreds of thousands of longtime U.S. residents have been sent back to their native countries for small, non-violent infractions, often without courtroom trials. The consequences are devastating, and hugely disproportionate. Noncitizens can have their entire life upended—ripped away from their families, their jobs, their schools, and their communities—for conduct that would not even warrant jail time if carried out by a United States citizen.
The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to ensuring the safety of everyone in our community, and to ensuring that justice is carried out evenhandedly, irrespective of citizenship status. Accordingly, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office maintains the following policies relating to immigration matters:
Declining to collaborate with ICE or federal immigration enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws or policies;
Prioritizing and freely certifying “T-Visas” (for victims of human trafficking) and “U-Visas” (for noncitizens who provide assistance to law enforcement);
Not questioning witnesses about immigration status;
Not using citizenship status as a basis for pretrial detention or conditions;
Working to ensure that convictions avoid collateral immigration consequences, if an immigration-neutral conviction can be obtained consistent with public safety.