Immigrants & State Courts

Immigrant Justice in State Courts Group – Established in 2015

Background

Family court dispositions can impact immigrants both positively and negatively. Immigrants who are survivors of violence or witnesses to crime may be able to regularize their immigration status by submitting crucial court documents in support of their applications for VAWA self-petitions or U visas. Likewise, young people who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by at least one parent may be able to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status upon special findings by the family court judge. Conversely, some family court dispositions can render an immigrant deportable, trigger an immigration detainer or impair an immigrant’s ability to successfully obtain a green card or naturalization certificate. It is therefore essential that judges, family court attorneys and court staff understand the intersection of the family court and immigration systems in order to safeguard immigrants’ rights and provide effective counsel.

Statement of Purpose

This group is dedicated to collaborating with legal advocates, the judiciary, and court administrators to identify ways that we can collectively bridge the knowledge, information and language access gaps that exist with respect to the complex family-immigration law intersection. Our principal purpose is to work together to provide dynamic, practical recommendations that will enhance equal justice for immigrants in the family courts statewide, especially when the substantive issues determined in family court impact on immigration status. The coordination of recommended strategies by all involved – lawyers, advocates, court personnel as well as judges and administrators – is the only way to provide for a robust system of justice.

We Recommend

  1. Establishing an Advisory Committee to work with the Office of Court Administration on Family Court and Immigration issues;
  2. Enhancing language access in our Courts;
  3. Creating informational resources for the courts, attorneys and community members to share with immigrant litigants;
  4. Coordinating and collaborating on trainings and resource development to equip family court attorneys, assigned counsel administrators, judges, court staff and community-based organizations to understand the family-immigration law intersection.

As a First Step, We Will

  1. Review training materials and resources currently used across the State, with an eye toward creating a training library;
  2. Identify gaps in the content of existing trainings and resources, with an eye toward creating a comprehensive curriculum;
  3. Speak with expert trainers, and create a trainer’s bureau;
  4. Identify multiple ways to present materials and content in a way that is engaging and dynamic, and easy to access in daily practice.

Who We Are

The group includes organizations from across the State of New York, service providers, family court practitioners, criminal defense specialists, immigration lawyers and advocates, Law School professors, advocacy groups, city and state government officials as well as good government groups. To date we have over 60 members.

Contact Us

Contact us to join or for more information.

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