WASHINGTON – In a letter to All U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson officially canceled the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” program, resulting in more than 3,000 expatriates, according to a copy of the letter Families were separated. Received by NBC News.
The move, though largely symbolic, officially removes the policy for federal prosecutors under the guidance of the Department of Justice and instructs prosecutors to use discretion when prosecuting border crimes of misdemeanors.
Although former President Trump ended the practice of segregating migrant children when their parents were sued through an June 20, 2018 executive order, a policy of zero tolerance that outlawed US lawyers The SE instructs to prosecute anyone crossing the border, even for misdemeanors, never was. Officially saved.
Wilkinson’s memo is titled “The Zero-Tolerance Policy for Offenses Under 8 USC 1235,” refers to the section of the Criminal Code for misdemeanor offenses for crossing the border without proper documentation. Although immigrants can still be deported if they do not have the documents or security to live in the United States, they are not usually charged in federal court and thus separated from their children. .
Prior to zero tolerance, more serious border crimes, including violent crimes or illegal recidivism at the border, were generally charged more in federal court.
Instead of asking the prosecution to prosecute the misdemeanors, Wilkinson’s letter advised them to use discretion rather than a zero-tolerance approach.
In his letter, Wilkinson said the Justice Department’s “federal prosecution doctrine” tells prosecutors that they must “take into account personal circumstances and other personal factors, including criminal history, severity of crime, and possible punishment or other consequences.” . By a belief. “
Wilkinson said in the letter, “A policy requiring the prosecutor to prosecute under 8 USC 1225, regardless of individual circumstances, is inconsistent with our principles.”
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who is involved in a legal battle to find and reunite separated families under zero tolerance, said guidance to prosecutors is helpful, but the prospect of a migrant parent Does not completely dismiss the accused and was separated from a child only because the parents had illegally crossed the border and raped.
Gelernt said Congress would need to take action to ensure that migrant family segregation does not occur again.
“While the Zero Tolerance Memo is a good start, Congress really needs to repeal the provisions of criminal penalties for illegal entry. In the meantime, we hope the Biden administration won’t prosecute parents for illegal entry , Where doing so would mean family. Separation, “Gelernt said.