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Criminal Justice and Drug Reform

Overview

One Day for New Yorkers: 364-Day Campaign

IDP is working with the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic in New York City to amend New York Penal Law to reduce the maximum prison sentence for New York misdemeanor offenses by one day (from 365 days to 364 days) to join other states that have recently taken such a step to protect immigrant state residents from deportation for minor offenses.

Though the proposed one-day fix is a small change in state law it would greatly reduce the immigration consequences faced by immigrant New Yorkers convicted of a misdemeanor offense. (An immigrant whose offense carries a maximum sentence of 364 days, rather than 365 days, may avoid deportability or preserve relief from deportation.) The law change would also help to restore some discretion to immigration judges. Immigrants are currently being deported for misdemeanor convictions, and immigration judges are being deprived of discretion to consider whether these deportations are warranted, because the maximum potential penalty for misdemeanors is one year. This is true, in most circumstances, even if the individual does not spend any time in jail at all. To learn more, contact us via the form below.

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Marijuana Decriminalization

Drug offenses have some of the most serious and unforgiving immigration consequences.

To combat the rising tide of mass deportation and interrupt the drug-offense-to-deportation pipeline, IDP works to educate advocates and community members about the immigration consequences of drug offenses and to change laws to decriminalize drugs.

Deportations of immigrants with drug convictions (especially drug possession convictions) have soared in recent years. And according to a Human Rights Watch report complied with assistance from IDP, for more than 34,000 immigrants deported between 2007 and 2012, the most serious conviction was for marijuana possession.

IDP is working with the Drug Policy Alliance to change drug policies to benefit both citizens and non-citizens. We are currently working with DPA on a marijuana decriminalization bill in New York, bringing new immigrant rights allies into the work and highlighting the stories of those directly impacted by the intersection of harsh immigration and drug laws.

Broken Windows Policing

The widespread criminalization of a wide range of activities through NYPD’s broken windows or quality-of-life policing practices has steadily driven up rates of arrests for violations and misdemeanors in New York City since the 1980s. Because the immigration system is extremely unforgiving, for non-citizens even a violation or misdemeanor can lead to detention and deportation.

To help defend against these consequences and protect civil and human rights against discriminatory and aggressive policing practices, IDP supports efforts to minimize the number of people entering the criminal legal system—including supporting pre-arrest drug or mental health diversion programs and providing Know-Your-Rights trainings to communities.

IDP was part of the coalition that worked on the IDNYC, a municipal identity card program for New Yorkers. IDP’s role in this coalition was to maximize protections for immigrant New Yorkers who are vulnerable to deportation in the program — including pushing for the NYPD to not arrest immigrants who have ICE administrative warrants and to maximize privacy protections for New Yorkers whose documents have been retained as part of the application for the IDNYC.

IDP has partnered with the NYU Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic to advocate against the disproportionate, unjust impact non-criminal offenses – often addressed in Summons Court – can have in barring eligible young New Yorkers from relief under the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

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