Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 11.55 (b. Adverse Immigration Consequences

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Adverse immigration consequences may sometimes arise as a result of reopening a case or even trying to reopen a case.  For example, if the client has not previously come to the attention of the immigration authorities, the prosecution may report the client to the immigration authorities during the course of the post-conviction litigation.  The immigration authorities may arrest the client and place him or her in removal proceedings.  In another situation, the client may be deportable for a conviction for which discretionary relief is possible in immigration court.  If the conviction is reopened, the client may suffer a different conviction that constitutes an aggravated felony for which immigration relief is totally barred.


                The client must make the ultimate decision whether the risk of incurring adverse criminal or immigration consequences after obtaining post-conviction relief — consequences even worse than s/he initially suffered — outweighs the immigration benefits s/he seeks.




Clients who have been convicted and incarcerated face numerous penalties beyond those imposed in the courtroom. These collateral sanctions may include employment discrimination, occupational restrictions, exclusions from public housing, loss of welfare or food stamps, ineligibility for student loans, exposure to disease, disintegration of family ties, financial loss, barriers to reentry, and deportation. Such sanctions should be part of the judges consideration of the factors under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) and may be offered as reasons to mitigate the length of the incarceration and conditions of probation or supervised release or to lessen the seriousness of the clients criminal history. This resource list is designed to serve as a starting point for exploring the collateral consequences of convictions and imprisonment and for educating your judge about these invisible punishments. See Denise Barrett & Sara Silva of the Sentencing Resource Counsel Project, Collateral Consequences Resource List,