By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s latest hire will lead the DA office’s effort to protect the rights of immigrants. Their goal is to prevent unnecessary deportations.

Speaking in both English and Spanish, Krasner’s message was clear to the immigrant community.

“This immigration office is not going to call ICE on you, we’re not going to do that,” he says.

To prove it, he hired the Philadelphia District Attorney Office’s inaugural immigration counsel, Caleb Arnold.

A Colorado native, Arnold is a former public defender turned immigration lawyer and community activist who speaks French, Spanish, and English. Krasner says Arnold is not afraid to speak their mind, even suffering through an arrest to stand their ground.

“It’s not fair or just to ignore or worse punish someone based on their immigration status,” Arnold told the group of reporters and DA staff members gathered for the announcement. “There are ways that we can charge and sentence individuals that holds them equally accountable, but also takes into account adverse immigration consequences.”

Arnold’s job will be to ensure victims and witnesses with questionable immigration status do not become targeted by federal immigration authorities because of their contact with law enforcement. They’ll help the individuals who cooperate with police and/or the ADAs obtain special U and/or T visas so that they obtain legal status. Arnold will also tailor prosecution for minor defenses so defendants can avoid ICE and are not unnecessarily deported. The ADAs will also investigate scammers who target immigrants.

“This is an extremely important position for anyone who believes that vulnerable people and vulnerable populations should be protected by the law,” says Kranser.

Krasner’s move models the progressive approach implemented by the Brooklyn DA’s Office, which has seen success in a community of 1.6 million that includes a large immigrant population. He spoke openly about countering the increased raids and immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump.

Immigrant Adovocate groups like Juntos, HIAS Pennsylvania, and the Welcoming Center, among others, applauded the hire.

“This is a step in the right director for our city,” says Miguel Andrande, spokesman for Juntos.

Earlier this month, Krasner asked 33 people to resign from their posts at the DA’s Office. He’s hired an estimated 40 new people and more new hires are expected in coming weeks.

The Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley issued the following statement in response to DA Larry Krasner’s creation of a Philadelphia Immigration Counsel.

“This is yet another example of a dangerous practice that has caught little attention, but that seems to be occurring with increasing frequency in certain jurisdictions across the country. In a case we have seen recently in another so-called ‘sanctuary city,’ Santa Clara, California, a prosecutor was guided by county leadership to seek a lesser charge for a man accused of brutally assaulting his wife so the man wouldn’t have to face deportation. Justice is not served when American citizens are subjected to higher charges and stricter sentences for the same crimes committed by similarly situated illegal aliens. This is the type of abandonment of the rule of law and unequal enforcement of the law that this Justice Department diametrically opposes.”

More From CBS Philly

Latest Forecast
Weather App
Latest Videos

Watch & Listen LIVE