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Family Court: Raising Awareness About Immigration Consequences

IDP is breaking new ground by raising awareness of the immigration consequences that can result from contact with the family court system. As in the criminal justice system, the halls of family court are disproportionately filled with families of color, many of them immigrants. For such families family court involvement can trigger an array of immigration consequences including preclusion from citizenship, the denial of immigration relief, and even deportation. Yet, few immigrants in family court are aware of what is at stake. The vast majority cannot afford lawyers and so represent themselves. Even those with counsel are seldom advised on immigration consequences.

Through trainings and presentations IDP seeks to change the culture of family court by educating legal practitioners and judges about how families with noncitizens may be impacted by contact with family courts. IDP also advocates for systemic reforms that will improve noncitizens’ access to justice in family courts.  As a member of the New York Office of Court Administration’s Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Courts, IDP seeks court reform on a state-wide level. In partnership with the Fund for Modern Courts, IDP also helps to moderate the Immigrant Justice in State Courts Coalition, a unique forum that has attracted participation from over 30 organizations statewide. The coalition is currently developing a comprehensive curriculum on immigration issues in family court.