Step Forward for Criminal Justice Has Negative Collateral Consequences for Immigrant Justice, as Thousands Set to Face Deportation

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Step Forward for Criminal Justice Has Negative Collateral Consequences for Immigrant Justice, as Thousands Set to Face Deportation

WASHINGTON - This week, the Department of Justice will start releasing 6,000 people currently imprisoned for nonviolent offenses. This comes after the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that sets federal sentencing policy, reduced the potential punishment for drug-related offenses last year, in a policy shift that can be applied retroactively. Roughly one-third of those individuals set to be released are aspiring Americans without current U.S. documentation and who face immediate deportation. The national racial justice group, Advancement Project, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, released the following statement in response:

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“It is a tragic misstep that the Department of Justice’s action to release thousands of incarcerated people is being used as a funnel to deportation,” said Florida Immigrant Coalition Executive Director María Rodríguez, “The 2,000 parents, neighbors, cousins and siblings who will now face swift deportation have repaid their debt. Now, our broken immigration system creates another punishment – one of permanent separation from their homes and family. Each of the individuals facing deportation should have the opportunity to come before an immigration judge in order to determine whether they may qualify for prosecutorial discretion. It is deeply upsetting that progress we should be celebrating for criminal justice reform is instead creating new hardship for immigrant families.”

“Our nation should be focused on ways to dismantle the criminalization of people of color in our criminal justice system, including our immigrant detention system,” said Advancement Project Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant Justice Flavia Jimenez, “Currently, private prison companies profit off of the detainment and confinement of undocumented men and women and people of color in general, most often for nonviolent offenses. Progress on criminal justice reform should never put immigrant families at greater risk. There should be immediate action taken to ensure that each individual who is being rightly released from confinement under new Department of Justice standards is given a fair opportunity to remain unseparated from their family and home.”


Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras. From Advancement Project's inception, we have worked "on-the-ground," helping organized communities of color dismantle and reform the unjust and inequitable policies that undermine the promise of democracy. Simultaneously, we have aggressively sought and seized opportunities to promote this approach to racial justice.

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