BDS’s Immigration Practice provides comprehensive and zealous representation to our clients, who face life-changing consequences at the intersection of the criminal justice system and the immigration system. Since 2009, we have counseled or represented over 7,500 clients. The Immigration Practice is comprised of the Padilla, Youth & Communities Team and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) Team.
Padilla, Youth & Communities
The Padilla, Youth & Communities Team advises BDS criminal and family defense clients about the potential immigration consequences of criminal charges and family court proceedings, following our constitutional obligation under the Supreme Court’s holding in Padilla v. Kentucky to provide competent advice to criminal defendants to help them make an informed choice about their cases. BDS has one of the largest Padilla practices in the country, as a quarter of BDS criminal clients are foreign-born. Padilla attorneys work closely with criminal and family defense attorneys and staff in an early intervention model, providing immigration-related advice as early as the client’s arraignment and coordinating with court staff, prosecutors, social workers, and client families to promote the best possible outcome for the criminal, family, and/or immigration cases. Padilla attorneys also represent individual clients in applications for immigration status or benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and in removal proceedings before the New York Immigration Court, helping clients stabilize their immigration status and seek safety from persecution, family re-unification, or benefits for victims of neglect, abuse, or violence.
BDS’s Youth and Communities staff serve both BDS clients and Brooklyn community members by representing individual clients before USCIS, family court, and the New York Immigration Court, and have helped hundreds of clients secure permanent residence, asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and other benefits. The Youth & Communities project has run and staffed many community clinics and presentations, for example, to help Brooklyn’s Haitian community secure Temporary Protected Status, to help young people apply for DACA, and to provide critical “Know Your Rights” information, partnering with community based groups, elected officials, churches, and social service providers.
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP)
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project is the groundbreaking, first-in-the-nation universal representation program for detained immigrants, funded by the New York City Council and created in partnership with BDS. BDS staff have provided deportation defense to over 750 detained immigrants on an assigned counsel model since NYIFUP’s inception as a pilot program in the fall of 2013. NYIFUP was created after studies showed that detained immigrants in New York rarely secured counsel and that detained, unrepresented immigrants lost their deportation cases 97% of the time, causing wrongful deportations of people who had strong defenses to removal and tearing apart families who were losing a spouse or parent. NYIFUP is a national model of access to justice for detained immigrants and has spurred replication efforts across the country.
BDS’s NYIFUP Team intakes detained clients at the Varick Street Immigration Court in New York City and represents them in bond hearings, merits hearings on their defenses to removal, and appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). In addition, BDS has a highly successful in-house federal court practice, and has litigated dozens of habeas corpus petitions challenging the wrongful detention of immigrants, including the Second Circuit’s landmark decision in Lora v. Shanahan.
BDS’s Immigration Practice is comprised of twenty-three full-time staff attorneys, a fully accredited BIA representative, five paralegals (two of whom are partially BIA accredited), two legal assistants, and a social worker. The Immigration Practice has hosted several Immigrant Justice Corps fellows and other post-graduate fellows.