THE LONG ISLAND IMMIGRANT DEFENSE CENTER
and The NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services
Immigration law support for attorneys who provide
mandated representation to non-citizens on Long Island
Michelle Caldera-Kopf, Esq.
WHO WE ARE:
We are experienced immigration lawyers dedicated to improving the legal representation of indigent non-citizens by providing training, consultations, and expert advice to appointed counsel on Long Island.
The Long Island Immigrant Defense Center is one of six regional Immigration Assistance Centers funded by an innovative grant from the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services. The Legal Aid Societies of Nassau and Suffolk Counties are collaborating to provide free assistance by experienced immigration lawyers to all counsel appointed to represent indigent non-citizen criminal defendants or family court litigants, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay for services.
Our goal is to support appointed counsel in helping his/her non-citizen clients to make informed choices regarding any adverse immigration consequences which may arise from a Family or Criminal Court proceeding
We are funded by a grant from the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services to assist, train, consult with, and support appointed criminal defense counsel and family court attorneys in their representation of non-citizen clients.
We exist because in 2010, the Supreme Court announced in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), that non-citizens facing criminal charges are entitled under the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel provision to informed, accurate advice and assistance from counsel in avoiding the potential negative immigration consequences of any guilty plea. Immigration consequences stemming from even minor criminal charges like disorderly conduct or petit larceny can be serious and certain, including mandatory detention and removal. Defense counsel is obliged to inquire and investigate any potential immigration consequences for even long term residents. But immigration laws change constantly, are complex, and sometimes indeterminate.
QUESTION: I am a Nassau Lawyer, why am I calling SCLAS? I am a Suffolk lawyer, why am I calling NCLAS?
ANSWER: 18(b) counsel is generally appointed where the Legal Aid Society has a conflict, perhaps due to current/prior representation of a witness or co-defendant. We have structured the project to avoid conflicts or apparent conflicts of interest.
QUESTION: What can you do for me?
ANSWER: We provide timely and confidential consultations about the immigration consequences of any plea or offer. We help you meet your obligations under Padilla to provide accurate and detailed information to your non-citizen clients about the impact of the criminal charges they face.
QUESTION: My client is taking a plea to a violation, Disorderly Conduct, or an ACOD. Do I still need your services?
ANSWER: YES! Even seemingly minor criminal convictions can have devastating immigration consequences. Any non-citizen deserves to know the consequences he/she faces, and the Supreme Court says that the 6th Amendment obliges defense counsel to inquire about immigration status, analyze the immigration consequences, negotiate to minimize risk, and advise clients accurately and completely.