Competent Voices: Noncitizen Defendants and the Right to Know the Immigration Consequences of Plea Agreements
Evelyn Haydee Cruz
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
September 14, 2009
The article discusses the Sixth Amendment’s right to effective assistance of counsel in relation to the criminal prosecution of undocumented workers arrested at the 2009 Postville, Iowa immigration raids, and the pending Supreme Court case Padilla v. Kentucky. In the paper, the author advocates for members of the legal profession to be sensitive to the need to preserve the due process rights of vulnerable populations, such as noncitizens, who often distrust our criminal justice system. In particular, noncitizens without immigration status often carry a sense of guilt arising from their unlawful status, which affects their choices and interactions with the criminal courts. Also, the recent upsurge of immigration enforcement has led to an increased distrust of the U.S. justice system by immigrant communities in general. Therefore, a Supreme Court decision declaring that noncitizens have a right to meaningful representation will rebuild the trust of noncitizens in our legal institutions, while an opposite finding will demolish their trust. Similarly, the acknowledgement the primacy of immigration concerns in plea agreements should precipitate the modification of Rule 11(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures, a procedural change that will hopefully place us on a path that rebuilds noncitizen trust of the American criminal justice system.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: Sixth Amendment, Immigration, Due Process
Date posted: September 18, 2009
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