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Supreme Court Clinic: Immigration

The Supreme Court Clinic has been a pioneer in immigration law, especially the new subfield of crimmigration (the immigration consequences of criminal convictions) as well as asylum and procedural issues:

The Clinic’s first case was a blockbuster: Padilla v. Kentucky (2010) held, 7-2, that defense lawyers must warn noncitizen defendants that they will or may be deported before they plead guilty. The Clinic team persuaded the Court that deportation has become so automatic and draconian a penalty for even minor criminal convictions that advising clients about it is part of defense lawyers’ job. For their work on that case, the Padilla team won the 2011 Jack Wasserman Memorial Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

In Vartelas v. Holder (2012), a green-card holder had pleaded guilty in 1994 to a small role in a counterfeiting scheme. The government then tried to apply the 1996 immigration law to keep him from re-entering the country after a brief trip abroad in 2003. They successfully persuaded the Court, 6-3, that the rule against retroactivity should protect immigrants just as it protects citizens and corporations.