Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 3.43 (D)

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(D)  Expert Resource Centers.  Ample resources exist to assist criminal defense counsel in obtaining answers to the immigration questions that arise during the course of representing noncitizens.


                (1)  National Resources.  The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (14 Beacon Street, Suite 506, Boston, MA 02108, (617) 227-9727) is a valuable resource.  Headed by Dan Kesselbrenner, co-author of Immigration Law and Crimes,[1] it is a clearinghouse on recent developments and litigation in immigration law and criminal issues, and sometimes organizes amicus briefing in significant cases.  The major national resource in this area is:


                Many local Bar Associations have lists of immigration attorneys, and a local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild or American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will often be able to help.  The Washington, D.C., AILA office (918 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004, (202) 216-2400) will provide the name of a local AILA representative or, for a fee, their membership directory.[2]


                (2).  State Resources.  Resources (both live and written) specific to individual state include:




·        The Immigrant Legal Resource Center, in San Francisco, California is a non-profit organization that provides advice, training and materials to non-profit community agencies and immigrants’ organizations.  For a modest fee, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center lawyers will provide criminal defense counsel with expert telephone consultation about immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.  For information, call (415) 255-9499.

                California has a wealth of written resources:


·         K. Brady, N. Tooby & M. Mehr, Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit (Immigrant Legal Resource Center 2007), distributed by the ILRC, 1663 Mission Street, Suite 602, San Francisco, CA 94103, (415) 255-9499.


·         K. Brady, D. Keener, & N. Tooby, Representing the Noncitizen Criminal Defendant, Chap. 52 in California Continuing Education of the Bar, California Criminal Law: Procedure And Practice.


·         N. Tooby, California Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants (2002).

·         N. Tooby, Expungement Of California Criminal Convictions For Immigration Purposes (2002).




·         M. Baldini-Potermin, Defending Non-Citizens In Minnesota Courts (1998), distributed by the Minnesota Bar Ass’n, (612) 333-1183.


                New York. 


·         The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) of the New York State Defenders Association works to defend the legal, constitutional and human rights of immigrants facing criminal or deportation charges. IDP seeks to (1) minimize deportation and detention under current immigration laws for immigrants facing criminal charges or subsequent deportation, and (2) change the current system so that it does not result in the exile of immigrants from their homes and families in the United States. The Project serves as a legal resource for attorneys, advocates, and immigrants. It also promotes impact litigation by recruiting and mentoring pro bono attorneys and, it promotes community-based advocacy against unjust immigration laws.


                IDP has a number of legal resources available on its website IDP has practice materials for criminal defense attorneys and immigration attorneys, including a Removal Defense Checklist and reference charts that list common criminal offenses and whether they might trigger a ground of removability.  IDP also has pro se materials including “Know Your Rights” charts and guides to help unrepresented individuals understand the criminal justice and deportation systems. In addition, IDP’s webpage provides information about its litigation efforts, including its involvement as amicus curiae before the courts of appeals and Supreme Court.


M. Vargas, Representing Noncitizen Criminal Defendants In New York State (NY State Defender’s Association, Criminal Defense Immigration Project).


                In Texas, Lynn Coyle, Barbara Hines, and Lee Teran have written a manual entitled Basics of Immigration Law for Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys (Tex. Crim. Defense Lawyers Ass'n 2003), available at (512) 478-2514.


                In Washington State, Ann Benson is Directing Attorney of the Washington Defenders Immigration Project, 1401 E. Jefferson St. Suite 200, Seattle, WA  98122; (206) 726-3332; Fax: (206) 726-3170; E-mail:


Ann Benson & Jonathan Moore, Immigration and Washington State Criminal law (Washington Defender Association’s Immigration Project, 2005).


                For additional written resources affecting particular states, see the Bibliography to this volume, Appendix G.


[1] D. Kesselbrenner & L. Rosenberg, Immigration Law and Crimes (Nat’l Lawyers Guild, Nat’l Imm. Project, West Group).

[2] AILA also provides a referral service (fees not to exceed $100.00 per consultation) by calling 1-800-954-0254, or sending and email to  You will need to provide your name, location and describe your need for an immigration lawyer.