New center will ensure that criminal defense lawyers can provide the approximately 700,000 New Yorkers eligible to become citizens with high-quality information about the immigration consequences of criminal and family court convictions
NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a new initiative to ensure immigrant New Yorkers receive high quality legal representation when facing a criminal charge. The new Padilla Support Center, funded by a $1.35 million grant from New York State and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, will connect criminal trial-level, appellate and family court lawyers to individualized, expert advice as well as ongoing training and technical assistance.
“Every New Yorker deserves a fair day in court and high quality legal representation – regardless of immigration status,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Equipping lawyers to provide immigrants with the best possible criminal defense is an important piece of ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and immigrants continue to feel welcome in New York City.”
"New York City has long taken an innovative approach to providing advice and representation to immigrants navigating the criminal court system," said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. "The new Padilla Support Center will enhance the City's ability to support immigrant New Yorkers as they navigate our complex legal systems."
There are approximately 1.5 million immigrants in New York City who are not yet U.S. citizens, about 700,000 of whom are estimated to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Entering a guilty plea or being convicted of even a minor, non-violent offense can have significant ramifications for these New Yorkers.
The plan advances the Mayor’s commitments to improve the quality of justice in New York City and ensure that City services – including education, emergency food, shelter, health care, legal services and municipal IDs – are available to every New Yorker, regardless of immigration status. Under the Supreme Court decision Padilla v. Kentucky, defense attorneys are obligated to inform defendants of the potential immigration consequences of a criminal case. The Padilla Support Center is part of a statewide network of regional immigration assistance centers announced last year by the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services to better deliver effective representation that is in constitutional compliance with the Supreme Court’s mandate in Padilla.
The Immigrant Defense Project, founded in 1997 to provide legal resources, training and support to criminal defense lawyers representing immigrants in New York criminal cases, will conduct operations for the Padilla Support Center.
New York City’s Padilla Support Center will provide key services, including:
- Providing essential training and technical assistance. The Padilla Support Center will conduct trainings for and disseminate resource guides to all criminal defense attorneys in the City to build knowledge and awareness of the immigration consequences related to criminal and family court cases.
- Operating a hotline for criminal defense attorneys. Staffed by lawyers with expertise in immigration law, the hotline will provide individualized and ongoing advice to the more than 2,000 appointed defense attorneys representing immigrants in criminal and family court in New York City. The hotline will help defense attorneys to understand the immigration consequences of a given criminal case.
- Connecting individuals to immigration legal experts. The hotline will also facilitate connection to immigration lawyers who can handle non-criminal legal needs, such as residency applications or deportation proceedings. These immigration lawyers, funded by the City, are embedded in institutional defense provider offices in all five boroughs, serving nearly 6,000 immigrant New Yorkers per year.
Immigrant Defense Project attorneys are nationally recognized experts in criminal-immigration law and have years of experience providing support to criminal defense lawyers and helping public defender offices institutionalize practices that best protect their immigrant clients.
The Padilla Support Center will complement and expand the legal services already available to immigrants living in New York City, which include ActionNYC, a citywide, community-based system that provides free, high-quality immigration-related information and legal support, and NYCitizenship, a program that provides free legal help with citizenship applications at select public library branches. The Padilla Support Center expands available capacity in the City to connect immigrants with high-quality legal advice and information, with a focus on those with a pending criminal case.