An editorial in The New York Times today summarizes the status of the administration’s decision to terminate its contracts with private prisons — or at least to study the question. It also suggests that the administration should re-think its use of prisons to house immigration violators who are not a threat.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a challenge to President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA) and an expanded version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Texas and twenty-five other states sued the administration to prevent DAPA’s implementation on three grounds.
Here are some initial thoughts from Vanessa H. Merton, Professor of Law and Director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at Pace Law School, about the relevance of this ruling to the criminal justice community. She notes:
If the plaintiff states were to prevail in this case, it should mean that a citizen could sue a local district attorney for 1) failing to take care to faithfully execute the law because s/he has not rounded up and prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law every single litterer whose lawless littering may have diminished the value of my property, or 2) failing to enforce to the maximum – no plea-bargaining – every single inspection sticker violation, noncompliant equipment violation, or moving violation that might conceivably cause excess traffic and the risk of unsafe vehicles. As much as prosecutorial discretion can be abused, a world without this kind of prosecutorial discretion would be absurd and dysfunctional.
Ironically, the temporary suspension of deportation available in these Presidential executive-order programs would not be available to most people who have any significant involvement with the criminal justice system. No one with either a felony conviction or a conviction for many misdemeanors can qualify.