When signed by Gov. Hochul, the bill will strengthen immigrants’ constitutional right
to receive legal advice in Criminal Court
June 1, 2022
ALBANY, NY – New York is poised to strengthen much-needed constitutional protections for immigrants facing criminal charges after the State Assembly passed a bill mandating New Yorkers get notified of the possibility of immigration consequences.
Advocates applauded the New York State Assembly for passing the Court Notification Bill. The bill, passed in the Senate in March, now goes to Governor Hochul’s desk for signing.
“Immigrant New Yorkers are often unaware that a plea in criminal court can cause devastating consequences, including deportation and ineligibility for U.S. citizenship. New York’s highest court has recognized the constitution requires judges to notify immigrants of the possibility of immigration consequences, and the legislature has provided guidance about how to ensure those notifications are clear and effective. This bill protects immigrants’ procedural rights and will prevent unforeseen, unfair immigration consequences. Having passed the legislature, the Governor should sign the bill immediately to protect the rights of New Yorkers,” said Jane Shim, Senior Policy Attorney, Immigrant Defense Project.
The consequences for immigrants who have contact with the criminal legal system are severe and life-changing. Immigrants facing criminal charges have a constitutional due process right to receive a notification from the court that a guilty plea could result in deportation and other negative immigration consequences. But in practice the notifications vary in their clarity and effectiveness. As a result, immigrant New Yorkers often aren’t fully aware of the stakes of their pleas. When it’s signed into law, the bill will make these critical protections meaningful for all immigrant New Yorkers and create accountability mechanisms where immigrants’ rights are violated.
“Brooklyn Defender Services applauds the New York Assembly for recognizing the importance of the Court Notifications Bill. We now urge Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law. With the enactment of this bill, New York State will take an important step toward ensuring immigrants are able to exercise the protections available to them and to make informed decisions about the criminal proceedings against them,” said Nyasa Steger, Director of Immigration Initiatives at Brooklyn Defender Services.
New York’s legislation follows the example of 15 other states that provide a remedy when notification is not given, which will help prevent unlawful deportation based on unfair and unknowing pleas.
“We applaud the Assembly’s action today, an important step toward protecting our valued immigrant community from the disproportionate penalty of deportation and separation from their children and other family members,” said Patricia Pazner, Attorney-in-Charge, Appellate Advocates.
“We are pleased to see the passage of this Bill, which will promote clarity, accuracy and consistency in the administration of guilty pleas, the main method by which criminal cases are resolved. This will help to bring fairness to a system that has too often been fraught with misinformation and misunderstanding for noncitizens accused of crimes — who are especially vulnerable in an unfamiliar legal system, and for whom the unexpected immigration consequences of their pleas can be devastating for them and their families,” said Robin Nichinsky, Co-Director, Immigrant Justice Project, Center for Appellate Litigation.
“The passage of this bill is a meaningful step towards disrupting barriers to accessing justice and easing the harm to noncitizen individuals who are impacted by the criminal legal system,” said Caprice R. Jenerson, Attorney-in-Charge, Office of the Appellate Defender.