In a move to further protect immigrant rights, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, announced the creation of a new position in the city's criminal justice system on Thursday.
Krasner said the creation of this new immigration counsel position assures immigrants that they can use the justice system without expecting “disproportionate consequences,” such as deportation, because of their status. The idea is not to provide a loophole for people to get away with crimes, the Associated Press reported.
Krasner’s victory in last year's election for Philadelphia’s new DA was called a “seismic change” for the city. During the race, Krasner vowed to stop President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
Former immigration attorney Caleb U. Arnold was named to the position of immigration counsel. Arnold, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, will be responsible for building benign relationships with immigrant communities and for ensuring the safety of witnesses and victims in the process.
Arnold will work with prosecutors on minimizing the impact of criminal convictions on immigration status, especially for those who are low-level offenders with no significant threat to the city, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
Krasner's proposal was made in hopes to strengthen fair treatment, he said to the Associated Press.
“Together, will ensure that all people are treated fairly by the justice system regardless of their immigration status. This is also part of our overall effort to protect the most vulnerable and ensure they are able to participate as witnesses or complainants in the criminal justice system.”
Krasner’s idea to establish immigration counsel derived from a similar policy implemented in Brooklyn last year by District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Gonzalez reported in a statement to the Associated Press that 200 cases have been resolved to reach “immigration-neutral outcomes."
“In the face of misguided federal policies, we need more local prosecutors who are willing to take a stand and do what’s right,” Gonzalez said, according to the Associated Press.
Krasner's progressive agenda and strong opinions on various issues had been heatedly discussed at Penn. Some expressed concern over what some call Krasner's "anti-police" position, while others endorsed Krasner as a candidate.
Supporters of Krasner believed that he could bring a change to the “culture of prosecution” in Philadelphia, where the rate of incarceration per capita is the highest out of the 10 largest cities in the nation.
Despite Trump's interests in removing federal funding for sanctuary cities, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has firmly advocated to keep the city a haven for undocumented immigrants. In Decemer 2017, the city successfully sued the Department of Justice for withholding federal funding over its sanctuary city status.