Sessions Memo Threatens U.S. Citizens with Criminal Prosecution

April 13th, 2017

Americans could wind up facing felony charges for giving someone a ride

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a widely reported memo to the Department of Justice outlining new policies targeting undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

However, the memo also makes clear that American citizens and immigrants with lawful status will also be subject to criminal prosecution if:

  • They drive an undocumented immigrant somewhere, or allow them to spend a night in their home
  • They provide sanctuary to an immigrant fearing deportation
  • They marry their best friend to help them get a green card and stay in the United States;
  • They try to protect someone from arrest by ICE
  • They intervene or interfere with the arrest and deportation of someone by ICE

If the person prosecuted under the memo is an immigrant in lawful status, they could face deportation as a result of the criminal charges.

“This is an unprecedented attack by the federal government on its own citizens, many of whom oppose the anti-American policies of the Trump regime, and want to support those victimized by it. Americans are a fiercely independent people with a patriotic respect for decency and fairness: Jeff Sessions does not get to decide who we let spend the night in our own homes or who we give a ride to. We should not wind up fighting criminal charges because the federal government has lost sight of the constitutionally appropriate limits of its power,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

The memo also directed increased state and federal resources to support the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda:

“The Attorney General’s remarks in Nogales on Tuesday betrayed a hateful disdain for immigrants and immigrant communities. His memo turns that hate into policy, by ordering federal prosecutors to pour their limited resources into further criminalizing the act of migration. Immigrant New Yorkers should not be imprisoned simply for seeking safety and opportunity in America. New York’s prosecutors should focus their energies on keeping our cities and towns safe, not jailing our friends and loved ones,” added Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.


The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.