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Supreme Courts extends rights of immigrants to due process

Yesterday, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision that upholds due process for immigrants in court. The decision means that any immigrant defendant has a right to be informed about whether or not a plea could lead to deportation.

From the Washington Post:

“The severity of deportation – the equivalent of banishment or exile – only underscores how critical it is for counsel to inform her noncitizen client that he faces a risk of deportation,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the opinion for the court.

The decision puts a new burden on lawyers to advise immigrant clients about the consequences of a guilty plea…”

Jose Padilla, the defendant in the case, had lived in the United States for 40 years as a legal permanent resident and was facing automatic deportation for  a plea made in 2001. He was told by his lawyer that the plea would not affect his immigration status.

Yesterday’s decision ruled that:

“It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant – whether a citizen or not – is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel.'”

This is a big victory for immigrant rights in the U.S. legal system, though it comes at the cost of thousands of deportations that should have been legally avoided.

For more on this decision check out:

National Public Radio:  High Court: Lawyers Must Give Immigration Advice

The Detention Watch Network Blog

Change.org:  Landmark Decision: SCOTUS Upholds Due Process for Immigrants

America’s Voice: Justice Prevails With Supreme Court Decision on Immigration Counsel

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