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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Protocol for the Development of a Public Defender Immigration Service Plan (Immigrant Defense Project 2009)

  • Organization: Immigrant Defense Project
  • Author: Peter Markowitz
  • Document Type: Program materials
  • Date Created: Sunday, November 21, 2010
  • Submitted: Sunday, November 21, 2010
  • Attachment(s): PDF

With the increasing entanglement of immigration and criminal law it has become impossible to competently practice in either arena without some knowledge or institutional resources in the other. As a result, professional responsibility standards now require that defenders must, at minimum, be able to accurately assess the immigration consequences of contemplated dispositions and suggest reasonable alternative disposition to mitigate those consequences. This poses a considerable challenge for defenders with significant caseloads and limited resources who are practicing in offices where personnel are already stretching to do more with less. The problem is exacerbated further by the unique complexity and rapidly evolving doctrine related to the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA) have developed this Protocol to aid New York State defenders in meeting these challenges.

This resource considers the various components that all defender offices should include in developing their approach to delivering these vital services: the advisal component; the information gathering component; the staff development component; the language access component; and the direct immigration service or referral component. As to each of these components, it presents the range of approaches various offices have utilized and identifies key considerations in choosing between the various approaches. Where possible, the publication also identifies best practices; however, the authors remain cognizant of the fact that what works best for one office or program may not work best for another. Each institutional defender office or assigned counsel program must develop an Immigration Service Plan that will work best in its unique environment. This Protocol is intended as a tool to assist in that inquiry, and the final section discusses how to make that assessment, how to get started implementing an Immigration Service Plan, and how an office with limited resources can phase in such a plan under realistic financial constraints.

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