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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

The Immigration Consequences of Deferred Adjudication Programs in New York City (Association of the Bar of the City of New York - Committee on Criminal Justice Operations)

  • Organization: The Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Thursday, September 20, 2007
  • Submitted: Thursday, September 20, 2007
  • Attachment(s): PDF

Immigrants in New York City may face many negative immigration consequences, including detention, deportation, and ineligibility for citizenship, as a result of even minor criminal charges, pleas, and sentences. These outcomes are often unexpected and unintended by anyone in the criminal justice system, particularly in the context of the city's innovative diversion programs and problem-solving courts. These courts and programs are designed to provide defendants with the means to break out of the cycle of recidivism and to overcome traditional barriers to reentry and reintegration into society following a criminal disposition. Defendants are given the opportunity to seek rehabilitation and treatment and earn a reduction in or dismissal of their charges. They then can return to their families and communities as productive, law-abiding individuals. Yet, due to the requirement of an upfront guilty plea for participation in these programs, many of the city's residents are not able to reach this ultimate goal. Noncitizens still face deportation and other negative immigration consequences as a result of participating in these deferred adjudication programs.

In a city where thirty-eight percent of its residents are foreign-born,1 the stakes of failing to address these problems are high. It is impossible to know precisely how many people will be subject to deportation and other immigration problems due to deferred adjudication programs given the lack of statistics in this area, but many New Yorkers who are noncitizens and participate in such programs may be exposed to these unintended consequences. Given the scope of this problem, every person involved in criminal justice operations in New York City should be aware of these consequences and the appropriate players should be prepared to inform noncitizen defendants, their families, and communities of these risks. This report explains why noncitizens face deportation and other negative immigration consequences as a result of pleading guilty through deferred adjudication programs. It then discusses in further detail how these consequences affect defendants, their families and communities, as well as the key players in the criminal justice system including prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court programs, and reentry service providers. It then presents some alternative approaches that would enhance immigrant participation in diversion and rehabilitative programs and preserve their ability to rejoin their communities as productive and law-abiding individuals.

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