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Immigration Counsel to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Caleb Arnold speaks at Thursday's press conference. John N. McGuire / AL DÍA News
Immigration Counsel to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Caleb Arnold speaks at Thursday's press conference. John N. McGuire / AL DÍA News

DA’s new measure to protect Philly’s immigrant community

District Attorney Larry Krasner has announced the appointment of Caleb Arnold as Immigration Counsel to the District Attorney’s Office.

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Miguel Andrade has seen families nearly torn apart simply because they sought the service of local law enforcement.

Andrade is Communications Manager for immigrant advocacy organization Juntos. Speaking at a press conference at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on Thursday, Andrade recalled a situation last year when a man suffering from schizophrenia was almost deported.

“During one of his episodes, his mother actually called 911 in hopes to get assistance and help for her son,” Andrade recalled. “Instead, her son was actually arrested.”

According to Andrade, this man was provided no interpretation after his arrest and the district attorney at the time “threw the book at him.” He was sent to an immigration detention center before Juntos was able to free him through advocacy and community organizing.

Andrade affirmed that to begin with, the fate of this man’s life should never have been in the hands of immigration officials, and now the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is working to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen in similar situations.

Continuing the city’s push to protect its immigrant community, District Attorney Larry Krasner announced at the press conference the appointment of Caleb Arnold as Immigration Counsel to the District Attorney’s Office.

Krasner explained that Arnold will work to identify cases in which people may face serious immigration consequences “that are disproportionate to the criminal case,” such as certain non-violent offenses. Arnold and the District Attorney’s Office also aim to protect immigrants who are witnesses to crimes, as well as those who request help from law enforcement.

“It is a position of extreme importance to anyone who believes vulnerable people and vulnerable populations should be protected by the law,” Krasner said.

Exemplifying this vulnerability, Arnold said that permanent lawful residents in the U.S. are getting deported for minor drug convictions when U.S. citizens would only face a period of probation for the same crime.

“There are ways that we can charge and sentence individuals that hold them equally accountable and at the same time accounts for adverse immigration consequences,” Arnold said.

Arnold indicated that their new role in the District Attorney’s Office will increase safety, not just in immigrant communities but throughout all of Philadelphia.

“When people trust that they can come to law enforcement as a witness or a victim without fear or reduced fear,” Arnold said. “We can actually fight crime and successfully prosecute cases.”

Despite the efforts of the District Attorney’s Office, the federal government remains capable of enforcing its own immigration policies in Philadelphia. However, Krasner appears ready and willing to make a stand.

“There are things the fed wants. There are things that we want,” Krasner said. “To the extent that there is less cooperation coming from the feds for what we want, well, they may experience the same thing in return.”

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