IDP’s recent accomplishments and an overview of some of our plans in the coming year:
Litigation efforts in defense of immigrants’ rights
- Realize the full potential of Padilla v. Kentucky by continuing to train and mentor defender offices across the country to provide effective immigration advisals, to raise awareness in immigrant communities about these rights, and to shape best practices among criminal court judges. This past year was a milestone for the New York City public defense system. Every public defender office in New York City now has an immigration department staffed with full time immigration attorneys, many of whom were trained and mentored by IDP. We also served as a training center for immigration attorneys at public defender offices nationally, developing immigration protocols in 6 states and, along with our partners in the Defending Immigrants Partnership, training defender offices in 31 states.
- Engage in impact litigation efforts in defense of immigrants’ rights through amicus briefing and technical support. Since last year, IDP has contributed to two victories at the Supreme Court, scaling back the government’s retroactive application of immigration laws. This is already shaping up to be another busy term in the Supreme Court, with pending cases concerning the retroactive reach of Padilla, whether minor marijuana offenses are “aggravated felonies” under immigration law, and the complex but critical issue of what records an immigration judge may examine to determine whether a conviction triggers deportation. We will continue to partner with pro bono law firms and law school clinics to protect and expand the rights of immigrants in these cases and many more in the lower courts.
- Ensure that immigrants can challenge past uninformed pleas by monitoring and intervening in litigation raising Padilla issues in federal and New York State appellate courts. Our work in New York has already yielded major victories, ensuring that more immigrants who pled guilty without being advised of the immigration consequences will be able to vacate their convictions. We hope that our work in Chaidez v. U.S., the Supreme case addressing Padilla retroactivity, will result in victory soon. We also plan to expand our post-conviction relief pro bono representation project, which we have worked to institutionalize with the Center for Appellate Litigation and Appellate Advocates. We have placed over 45 cases for immigrants challenging their convictions on Padilla grounds through these efforts.
Fighting back against deportation programs and for the rights of all immigrants.
- In response to victories like ours in getting New York State to suspend Secure Communities, ICE eliminated the state agreements that had previously governed S-Comm. On May 15 of this year, ICE activated the program throughout New York State. We are gathering information about S-Comm’s implementation, analyzing potential legal challenges to attack S-Comm, developing inclusive messaging and communications, and supporting the enactment of local detainer policies to break ICE- police collaborations. We also did administrative advocacy to limit the criminal bars for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. We plan to work with our partners across the country to fight for immigration reform that includes all immigrants.
Training, legal support, and cutting-edge resources
- Train even more attorneys, advocates, judges, and immigrant leaders across the country on how to ensure fairness for immigrants facing deportation after arrests and convictions. So far this year, nearly 1,400 people have attended our trainings, ranging from national gatherings of hundreds of defenders to Know-Your-Rights workshops for directly-impacted communities.
- Continue our legal hotline – the only one in the country exclusively for criminal-immigration issues – to provide high-quality legal analyses to defense attorneys, immigration advocates, and immigrants and their loved ones. We are already approaching 2,100 calls fielded this year! Our hotline also hosted and trained attorneys from four public defender organizations and a variety of domestic violence and immigrant rights organizations.
- Provide more cutting-edge resources for immigrants and their advocates fighting current harsh government enforcement policies. During the past year, we produced practice advisories on how to use recent Supreme Court decisions to fight deportation, model briefing on defending against criminal bars on eligibility for relief from deportation, materials for understanding the criminal bars to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a national toolbox for fighting ICE detainers, model materials for Padilla-based post-conviction relief motions, and practice advisories on Secure Communities and New York City’s local detainer policy. We hope to produce additional such resources this year, as well as updates of current resources such as our acclaimed Removal Defense Checklist for those fighting detention and deportation based on past criminal charges.