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Discriminating Against American Citizens, Part II

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In this post, I noted that the same Baltimore State's Attorney's Office that presided over both the disastrous Freddie Gray prosecutions and a startling increase in murder now proposes to use a harsher standard for charging decisions against American citizens (and, presumably, legal immigrants) than it will employ against illegal immigrants.

The stated rationale for this is that illegal immigrants face adverse collateral consequences, to wit, that, if standing immigration law is enforced instead of ignored, they may get deported.  The actual reason for such a blatantly discriminatory policy is, as you would expect, political:  Illegal immigrants are a favored constituency of the party that runs the State's Attorney's Office.

One question to ask here is what liberals' reaction would be if it worked the other way around, i.e., if there were overt discrimination in law enforcement in favor of American citizens and against illegal immigrants.  Not that there need be much head scratching about the answer. 

Can anything be done about this upside-down prosecutorial world?
Seth Barron from the City Journal suggests there is:

The problem with this new approach is that it creates separate, unequal justice systems for two categories of people, based on citizenship--an apparent violation of Title III of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin. An illegal immigrant arrested for document fraud, in this view, should be charged lightly because he might get deported; a citizen arrested for the same crime faces no such collateral penalty, so he can be charged as harshly as possible.

"I regret to say that we've seen district attorneys openly brag about not charging cases appropriately--giving special treatment to illegal aliens to ensure these criminal aliens aren't deported from their communities," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently. "They advertise that they will charge a criminal alien with a lesser offense than presumably they would charge a United States citizen. It baffles me."

Sessions should bring federal civil rights charges against any jurisdiction shown to be affording such special treatment to criminal aliens. The Supreme Court held  that "classifications based on alienage, like those based on nationality or race, are inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny." Alienage is the state or condition of being a noncitizen; if prosecutors are allowed to treat the native born or naturalized more harshly than aliens, then perhaps we will soon need to include citizens as a protected class. Selective prosecution of any group of people cannot be permitted in the United States.

I have no portfolio to suggest prosecution policy to the Attorney General, who scarcely needs my advice in any event.  But if it were to come to pass that civil rights charges were brought by the Department against the "American citizens stink" jurisdictions, I might find myself tempted to return to DOJ for a dollar a year.

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Legal permanent residents also face deportation upon conviction of an "aggravated felony." That is a valid rule in principle, IMHO, but the definition of "aggravated felony" needs work.

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