Philly DA vows to protect unauthorized immigrants victimized by crime

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner discusses his office's policy on unauthorized immigrants victimized by crime.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner discusses his office's policy on unauthorized immigrants victimized by crime. "We all need to protect each other, we all need to work together," he said Wednesday. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has vowed that he will not turn over to federal officials unauthorized immigrants who testify in court or press charges in the city.

“We all need to protect each other, we all need to work together,” he said Wednesday.

Alternating between English and Spanish, Krasner promised not to turn over any unauthorized immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Many times a person who lacks legal status may know something about a crime committed against a U.S. citizen,” he said. But fear of deportation could silence that witness.

Krasner’s pledge is in response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ determination that fleeing gangs or domestic violence no longer qualifies as cause for seeking asylum in the U.S. “I have no doubt that many of those crossing our border illegally are leaving behind difficult situations,” Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego earlier this month. “But we cannot take everyone on this planet who is in a difficult situation.”

The message from Sessions could keep immigrants from cooperating with police, said Brenda Gorski of the Nationalities Service Center.

“The result is that more immigrant victims and survivors are remaining in the shadows and remaining vulnerable to further abuse,” she said.

Krasner said his office will protect and support unauthorized people who are crime victims.

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