A criminal conviction – and sometimes even just an arrest – can have a significant impact on a noncitizen’s legal status. As a result, in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that attorneys for noncitizen criminal defendants must counsel their clients on the potential immigration consequences of their charges. In light of this decision, and in furtherance of the commitment to client-centered, tenacious advocacy, the Office of the Public Defender established an Immigration Division in 2012.
The Immigration Division provides public defenders with training on relevant immigration law and consultation on cases involving noncitizen clients. Under the guidance of in-house immigrant experts, more than 40 public defenders from across the state participant in an Immigration Team, through which they receive additional training and develop expertise on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, both to better represent their clients and to serve as as liaisons to the in-house immigration experts.
The Immigration Division also leads the Criminal/Immigration Law Collaborative, a network of immigration and criminal defense attorneys in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia who discuss recent trends in immigration law and strategize about immigration enforcement in the DMV area.