Immigration Clinic Releases Major Work on Immigration Consequences of Florida Crimes

Barbed Wire Fence "Immigration Consequences of select Florida crimes"

Students in Miami Law’s Immigration Clinic have released a series of in-depth practice advisories on the immigration consequences of commonly charged Florida crimes. The work marks the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Padilla v. Kentucky that defense attorneys must advise their noncitizen clients of the potential impact of plea agreements on their immigration status.

The advisories were drafted by Clinic recent graduates Christian Alvarez, Alexis Bay, Jessica M. Gomez, Hannah Gordon, and rising third-year students Katarina Gomez, Sara Hastings, Meredith Hoffman, Maria A. Llorens, Andrea Ortiz, Krisztian Janos Pivarnyik, and Leyana Quintero.

The work was supervised by Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence Dan Kesselbrenner, former Executive Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and leading expert on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

“I'm thrilled at the positive impact clinic students’ work will have for noncitizens and the Florida bar,” said Professor Kesselbrenner. The advisories will help both immigration practitioners defending noncitizens against deportation and defense attorneys representing noncitizen defendants.

Since sweeping legislative changes in 1996, the number and types of criminal convictions that might subject a non-citizen, including a long-term lawful permanent resident, to deportation from the United States has grown exponentially. Yet determining whether a criminal conviction carries immigration consequences is complex, requiring interpretation of both state and federal law in an ever-changing legal environment.

For the immigration students, drafting the practice advisories was a challenging but rewarding task. Sara Hastings, 3L and a Clinic fellow reflected on her experience: “Engaging in the complex analysis of how state criminal convictions might impact a person's immigration status helped me improve my research and writing skills. And working with an expert like Dan Kesselbrenner was an invaluable experience.”

Established in the fall of 2009, Miami Law’s Immigration Clinic provides a challenging opportunity for students to advocate on behalf of immigrants in a wide variety of complex immigration proceedings. In addition to helping individual clients, students collaborate with other immigrant rights groups on projects that reform the law and advance the cause of social justice for immigrants.

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