90 year old Robert Morgenthau, New York’s legendary District Attorney for 35 years is recently retired, and has already dived into his new role at law firm Wachtall, Lipton, Rosen and Katz where he has committed to fighting for the rights of all immigrants in the United States.
Considered the inspiration for Law & Order, New York’s highest prosecuting office was presided over by Morgenthau, and was responsible for tens of thousands of cases, including many high-profile trials. That’s why, when he speaks of the need to ensure the basic constitutional rights of every single person, particularly those at the margins, we need to pay attention.
In an interview with WNYC, Morganthau did not mince words on expressing his views on the current system.
Brian Lehrer: You’ve also been thinking about immigration law and the interface between criminal courts and immigration courts and immigration detention. This is something you said you were going to work on after your retirement and now you are. What have you been thinking about?
Robert Morgenthau: I think, the way we treat immigrants is a national disgrace and I’m ashamed of what we do. I think anybody who’s here in the United States, legal or illegal, is entitled to the full protection of the law and they’re not getting that. I set up an immigration program in the D.A.’s office and I publicly announced, over half a dozen times, that we would turn nobody over to the Federal authorities, as long as they continued to deprive these undocumented immigrants of their constitutional rights. And it’s a very, very serious problem, and again its a stain on our reputation. There are 2 problems one is the problems with laws themselves, and second is the way they are applied.