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'Prosecutorial discretion' is not part of immigration law

For those New Orleans residents who are not yet United States citizens, there is more than likely a growing concern regarding the ability to remain in the country. Immigration law is being enforced in ways not seen for several years, if not decades. In fact, "prosecutorial discretion," which is not part of the current law, may be disappearing when it comes to undocumented and documented immigrants.

Prosecutorial discretion allowed prosecutors here in New Orleans (and elsewhere) to overlook the immigration status of an individual and to dismiss their cases as long as he or she generally obeyed the law and was low-risk. This gave those who were pursuing visas or marrying a U.S. citizen the time they needed to become a documented immigrant. Of course, those accused of violent crimes remained in the system and were brought to the attention of immigration officials.

Now, however, that opportunity no longer exists in most cases. Prosecutors are now treating every case the same. In fact, even some with DACA protection are ending up in the system. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are seeking low-priority individuals who have not committed any crimes. This has drastically increased the number of people being detained until their cases can be heard.

Individuals in the criminal justice system are entitled to representation for their crimes, but not necessarily for their immigration law needs. Successfully dealing with even minor criminal infractions may not be enough to keep an individual in the country. Undocumented -- and even documented -- immigrants may discover that they could benefit from consulting with an immigration attorney.

Source:, ""Now everybody is a target" ICE is aggressively prosecuting immigrants it used to let go", Taylor Dolven, Aug. 11, 2017

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