In an effort to help prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges grapple with the requirements of Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), the case in which the Supreme Court held that defense attorneys must affirmatively and accurately advise their non-citizen clients of the risk of deportation stemming from a guilty plea, the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) recently issued an 86-page guide on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. OIL, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Padilla v. Kentucky (Sept. 2010). OIL is the DOJ unit that litigates all immigration matters in federal court for the federal government. [OIL released a revised version of this guide in November 2010.]
This easy to read guide is packed with helpful information for attorneys and judges who need to determine the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. The guide is divided into six sections: Overview of the Removal Process, Consequences of Criminal Acts, Relief and Protection from Removal, Other Immigration Consequences of Guilty Pleas, Brief Overview of Criminal-Law Related Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, and a series of appendices
The sections of greatest benefit to individuals with limited exposure to immigration law or crimmigration law are probably the sections on the removal process (Section 1), consequences of criminal acts (Section 2), including Section 2B on aggravated felonies, and the definition of a conviction (Appendix C). Each section provides sufficient detail to answer many questions likely to cross the mind of the attorney or judge new to this area of law. Most helpfully, the manual cites to relevant statutory provisions and cases. Unfortunately for immigration practitioners the manual cites to the United States Code rather than the Immigration and Nationality Act adding one step to the process in trying to convert the USC citation to an INA citation.
I highly recommend this guide for newcomers to crimmigration as well as individuals with more experience in this area. Users of this manual, however, should remember that it is a guide—albeit a well-organized and thorough guide—produced by lawyers charged with representing the government’s position in immigration litigation. That is to say that in the crimmigration context these are attorneys whose job it is to remove non-citizens.