Immigration advocates call on Barr to halt migrant prosecutions amid coronavirus outbreak

Immigration advocates call on Barr to halt migrant prosecutions amid coronavirus outbreak
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Immigration advocates are calling on Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBrooklyn man accused of lying about hoarding medical supplies, coughing at officers Juan Williams: Mueller, one year on States should plan now for November voting options MORE to halt immigration prosecutions and stop bringing charges of unauthorized entry against immigrants at the border. 

The push is in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, advocacy groups led by Mijente wrote in a letter to Barr Tuesday. 

“An outbreak of the coronavirus in these courts and custodial facilities would not only move fast, it would be catastrophic,” the groups wrote, adding that vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with medical conditions are “well represented” among incarcerated people. 

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Failing to make changes places the surrounding communities at risk, the advocates wrote. People who cycle in and out of the detention facilities, including staff and people who are arrested and released within a short time, are at risk of spreading the virus beyond the facilities if there is an outbreak.  

The advocates are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to end arrests and criminal referrals for unauthorized entry and reentry, drop all unauthorized entry and reentry charges and decline all new criminal prosecution for such charges. 

The groups also ask the DOJ to agree to resentence people held in prisons. 

“Taking the above actions immediately will promote the public health and the safety of those in custody, those working in the court and detention system, and the broader community. We implore you to act swiftly to keep our communities safe,” the advocates wrote. 

A spokesperson for DOJ was not immediately available for comment. 

The letter led by Mijente, a grassroots organizing group, is signed by more than 160 immigration, faith, civil rights and community organizations.