Lehigh Valley

Executive orders prompt new response to undocumented immigrants

New executive action on immigration...

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Allentown-based criminal defense attorney Kate Roberts says she sees firsthand how the justice system has responded to illegal immigrants and minor crimes.

"Police usually let them go if it was a traffic incident. Just process them through the system and put them on their way hope they come to court and plead guilty," Roberts said.

That is set to change with President Trump's updated immigration plan. It calls for the hiring of 10,000 new Immigration and Custom Enforcement Officers and 5,000 new border patrol agents, and broaden deportations.

"There are a lot of people living in limbo. Now they're concerned with active aggressive immigration enforcement," Roberts explained. "They are calling lawyers and saying maybe I better get married, thinking maybe they'll save their spouse and keep them here."

"Fact is we are going to see what I think is more responsiveness from immigration and custom enforcement," Northampton County DA John Morganelli said,

Morganelli is a big fan of Trump's plan. He now expects more county-detained illegal immigrants to be deported than what was the case under Obama.

"When local law enforcement calls and says we have a guy here illegally who committed a robbery, they're going to come and get him. With Obama administration that was not the case, only a select few cases they were interested in," Morganelli added.

Morganelli says only about 100 out of his office's 5,000 yearly prosecutions are crimes from illegals.

During the campaign, Trump talked about a nationwide deportation force. Morganelli says local police aren't involved in immigration, they only alert federal authorities when they see it.

"Does not mean local police are going to go down to local pizza shop to look for illegal aliens," Morganelli said.

A police raid of two pizza shops in Palmerton, Carbon County, that led to several arrests of illegal immigrants, was led by federal agents. However, local police were involved.

The Allentown police department said it will not actively seek illegal immigrants but will comply with federal laws and agencies.

 


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