Tag: Federal Crime

Homeland Security Will Now Refer 100% Of Illegal Southwest Border Crossings For Prosecution

Yesterday, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III delivered remarks in San Diego, California discussing immigration enforcement actions of the Trump Administration.

Here are some highlights from the Attorney General’s remarks:

Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed.

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That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest Border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution.  And the Department of Justice will take up those cases.

I have put in place a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border.  If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you.  It’s that simple.

If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you.

If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.

If you make false statements to an immigration officer or file a fraudulent asylum claim, that’s a felony.

If you help others to do so, that’s a felony, too.  You’re going to jail.

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In order to carry out these important new enforcement policies, I have sent 35 prosecutors to the Southwest and moved 18 immigration judges to the border.  These are supervisory judges that don’t have existing caseloads and will be able to function full time on moving these cases.  That will be about a 50 percent increase in the number of immigration judges who will be handling the asylum claims.

Previously, the Attorney General sent a memorandum to all federal prosecutors on April 11, 2018, titled Renewed Commitment to Criminal Immigration Enforcement , detailing new charging-practice policies in immigration cases. A Statement from DHS Press Secretary on April Border Numbers, released May, 2018, echoes the Attorney General’s remarks, warning: “If you enter our country illegally, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution.  DHS has zero tolerance for those who break the law and will no longer exempt classes or groups of individuals from prosecution.  Whether you are a single adult or an adult member of a family unit, if you are apprehended you will be prosecuted and put in removal proceedings.” The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s border migration numbers for April 2018 are here.

As The Sentinel Sees It:

The Sentinel is deeply concerned with the matter of illegal immigration and serious criminal acts involved with human smuggling across the borders of our great land.

We are likewise concerned about the overreaching nature Mr. Sessions past acts, both in the Senate and as our Attorney General and worry that this most current action will not reduce the number of people desperate to reach our country, but will instead increase their desperation, risking the lives of our troops and border agents.

Criminal prosecution zero tolerance policies take charging discretion away from the local United States Attorneys, who are put in place specifically for the purpose of determining, on a case-by-case basis, what the appropriate action is in any given situation.

These men and woman are selected carefully, not just for their extensive legal experience, but also for their awareness of the needs of their local communities.  The exercise of their discretion and common sense help keep our justice system, if not perfect, one of best in the world.

Zero tolerance policies and Washington based mandates don’t only call into question the level of trust Attorney General Sessions has in our nation’s U.S. Attorneys, it also questions his respect for our entire system of justice and the will of the American people.

This matter extends well beyond the important question of immigration into other essential areas.  Stripping the United States Attorneys of their charging discretion on this issue could well lead to a loss of it on others until, ultimately, only bureaucratic absolutes from the District remain.

The Sentinel stands firm on the importance of recognizing and addressing criminal conduct, but urges AG Sessions and President Trump to review this “zero tolerance” mandate and return charging authority to were it belongs, in the hands of the experienced men and women the President appointed and the Senate confirmed to make such decisions.

 

 

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New Report On Firearms Offense Sentences Released

The United States Sentencing Commission issued a report on March 15th titled Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Firearms Offenses in the Federal Criminal Justice System.  This is the third publication in the Commission’s series on mandatory minimum penalties, including the 2017 Mandatory Minimum Overview and the 2017 Drug Mandatory Minimum Report.

Yesterday’s Mandatory Minimum Firearms report uses fiscal year 2016 data and focuses on firearms offenses, the second most common federal offenses carrying mandatory minimums after drug offenses.  The report analyzes two statutes carrying minimum mandatory penalties: (1) 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (relating to using, carrying or possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking or crime of violence); and (2) 18 U.S.C. 924(e), the Armed Career Criminal Act.  The publication also addresses the impact of these statutes on the Bureau of Prison’s prisoner population.

Here are some highlights from the 81-page report:

1. Firearms mandatory minimum penalties continue to result in long sentences although they have decreased since fiscal year 2010.

2. Offenders charged with and convicted of multiple counts under section 924(c)received exceptionally long sentences as a result of the statutory requirement that the sentence for each count be served consecutively.

3. In addition, other charging and plea decisions also play a significant role in theapplication and impact of firearms mandatory minimum penalties.

4. Statutory relief under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) for providing substantial assistance to the government plays a significant role in the application and impact of firearms mandatory minimum penalties.

5. While the rate at which firearms offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum has been stable, the number of offenders convicted of offenses carrying such penalties has decreased significantly since fiscal year 2010.

6. Firearms mandatory minimum penalties continue to impact Black offenders more than any other racial group.

 

 

Federal Courts Beef Over Definition Of “Violent Crime”

A forthcoming University of Miami Law Review article titled A Touchy Subject: The Eleventh Circuit’s Tug-of-War Over What Constitutes Violent Physical Force, examines internal disagreements within the Eleventh Circuit, and that Court’s conflicts with other circuits, about the proper application of the Armed Career Criminal Act’s elements clause after United States v. Johnson, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) (Johnson II). The article is written by Assistant Federal Defenders Conrad Kahn and Danli Song from the Middle District of Florida. The abstract of the article, available for download on SSRN here, states:

In a prosecution for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a pivotal question is whether an individual is subject to a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). If an individual has three or more prior convictions that qualify as “violent felonies” or “serious drug offenses,” the ACCA increases his statutory range of imprisonment from zero-to-ten years to fifteen years to life.

Historically, a prior conviction could qualify as a “violent felony” if it satisfied at least one of the three “violent felony” clauses—the elements clause, the enumerated-offenses clause, or the catch-all residual clause. But on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court invalidated the residual clause in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) (Johnson II).

Since Johnson II, substantial disagreements have emerged both within the Eleventh Circuit and among the other circuits regarding Johnson II’s reach and the proper application of the ACCA’s elements clause. This Article examines those disagreements, including three ways the Eleventh Circuit got it wrong—specifically, the court’s unusual conduct in ruling on requests to file second or successive post-conviction motions based on Johnson II and recent rulings on whether the Florida offenses of robbery and felony battery qualify as “violent felonies” under the elements clause. This Article argues the ACCA’s elements-clause analysis should focus on the degree of force used in an act, and the Supreme Court should resolve these disagreements and provide guidance to the lower courts by reviewing whether one of these offenses satisfies the elements clause.

Crime Rate Falls In 2017

A year-end analysis of by the Brennan Center for Justice, titled Crime in 2017: Updated Analysis, directly undercuts any claims that there is a nationwide crime wave.  According to the report, “[a]ll measures of crime in the 30 largest American cities—the overall crime rate, violent crime rate, and murder rate—are estimated to decline in 2017,” although there are some cities where violence has increased, like Chicago and Charlotte.   Here are some key findings of the Brennan Center’s analysis:

  • The overall crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2017 is estimated to decline slightly from 2016, falling by 2.7 percent.
  • The violent crime rate will also decrease slightly, by 1.1 percent, essentially remaining stable.
  • The 2017 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estimated to decline by 5.6 percent. Large decreases this year in Chicago (down 11.9 percent) and Detroit (down 9.8 percent), as well as small decreases in other cities, contributed to this decline. New York City’s murder rate will also decline again, to 3.3 killings per 100,000 people.
  • Some cities are projected to see their murder rates rise, including Charlotte (54.6 percent) and Baltimore (11.3 percent).

Federal Civil Rights Commission Supports Bipartisan Sentencing Reform Bill

On October 13, 2017, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a Statement supporting certain provisions in the Senate’s bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017.  The bill proposes to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent offenses, restore judicial discretion in sentencing in more cases, move sentencing levels down in many cases so that low-level crimes are adequately but not excessively punished, and make retroactive sentencing reductions in crimes involving crack cocaine prior to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.  U.S. Civil Rights Commission Chair Catherine E. Lhamon said,

The sentencing reduction provisions in this legislation are necessary to hew closer  to the fair administration of justice in our country, and ensure that the criminal justice system does not more harshly judge marginalized communities without basis. I urge Congress to take swift action to correct these injustices.

Established in 1957 by the Civil Rights Act, the Commission on Civil Rights is the only independent, bipartisan federal agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing an annual federal civil rights enforcement report.

– The American Sentinel Newsletter