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This Bill Guarantees Immigrants Are Warned Before They Take a Plea Deal

The Court Notifications Bill (S2903A/A9877A) would require the courts to inform immigrants before accepting a plea that the plea could result in negative immigration consequences including deportation, removal from the United States, and exclusion from the United States or denial of citizenship. 

Advocates say the Court Notifications Bill would allow noncitizens facing criminal charges to receive more detailed legal advice about how the charges and plea could affect their immigration status. Even limited interactions with local law enforcement can have drastic consequences on someone’s immigration status. Passing the legislation would follow the lead of fifteen other states which “provide a remedy when notification is not given, which will help prevent unlawful deportation based on unfair and unknowing pleas,” according to the Immigrant Defense Project.

The bill, which is sponsored by Assembly Member Catalina Cruz, a Queens Democrat, and State Senator Brian Kavanagh, a Manhattan Democrat, passed the legislature on Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature.

Also Read: Immigrant Bail Bond Industry Is ‘Wild West,’ State Lawmakers Say

This bill protects the procedural rights of immigrants, and will prevent wrongful deportations, according to Jane Shim, Senior Policy Attorney at the Immigrant Defense Project. 

“Even though New York law requires judges to notify immigrants of their right to legal advice, many judges give misleading or inaccurate notifications, or none at all,” Shim said in a statement.

The New York State Bar Association also supports the bill, T. Andrew Brown, president of the New York State Bar Association, previously said in a statement. The bill, he said, would establish that immigrants can be “well informed before making decisions that could upend their lives.”

“Deportation is a serious consequence and a near certain result of a broad range of criminal convictions. When deportation is in the balance, it is extremely important that the consequences are clear before an immigrant enters a guilty plea,” Brown said.

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