How Immigration Prosecutorial Discretion Compares to the Criminal System
This chapter explains how immigration prosecutorial discretion relates to the criminal system. It describes the special role of police and prosecutors and the stages at which prosecutorial discretion can be exercised in the criminal system including the charging, grand jury, plea bargaining, and sentencing stages. This chapter examines how immigration prosecutorial discretion compares to analogous processes in the criminal system and how the immigration agency has relied on criminal guidelines to formulate its own policy on prosecutorial discretion. For example, the INS memorandum from Doris Meissner on prosecutorial discretion relies on the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual’s Principles of Federal Prosecution, a document published by the Department of Justice. While there are similarities between the criminal and immigration systems, there are two sharp differences raised by this chapter. First, the immigration system is a civil system and lacks many of the safeguards available in the criminal system. Furthermore, the influences and incentives that drive immigration prosecutorial discretion are distinct from those that typically affect criminal prosecutorial discretion.
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