Immigration Practice Group

The Immigration Practice Group attended a national training on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, which was organized by the Defending Immigrants Partnership. This training is an annual event that brings together practitioners from every state of the country to discuss specifically what public defenders are doing to within our organizations to protect the complex rights of immigrants in criminal cases. Since the landmark decision of Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), most jurisdictions have been trying to urgently meet these obligations. Since Padilla, the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) formed its Immigration Practice Group.

A challenge to adequately addressing immigration consequences seems to be getting attorneys to recognize their obligations under Padilla. For many years in Wisconsin, criminal defendants have been warned at the plea colloquy that they may be deported as a result of their conviction. See Wis. Stat. Sec. 971.08(1)(c).This general admonition is clearly insufficient under Padilla.

The main objective of the Immigration Practice Group is to assist our attorneys in understanding the immigration consequences their clients face upon conviction of a crime. This analysis is often complex and is specifically tailored to each client through the completion of the Immigration Practice Group Questionnaire, which screens for potential immigration consequences.

The Immigration Practice Group Coordinator has made connections with immigration resources through the Defending Immigrations Partnership, which connects the SPD's practice group to many well respected national immigration organizations focusing on immigration consequences in criminal convictions. There are also organizations within Wisconsin that we have connections with as well. In addition, the UW Law School’s Immigration Justice Clinic has started a relationship with the SPD allowing the SPD to refer clients to the clinic for representation in immigration proceedings or to assist with complex Padilla advice.

The Immigration Practice Group website will provide resources to staff and private attorneys. This website will list contact information for the Immigration Practice Group members, as well as immigration consequences resources. The SPD currently has an immigration listserv for staff attorneys, which has recently become a message board. The Immigration Practice Group is using this message board to give staff attorneys broader access to immigration consequences advice from the Immigration Practice Group. The Immigration Practice Group is available to assist attorneys in any case where your client is not a natural born citizen. There are currently three Immigration Practice Group coordinators to serve staff attorneys and private bar attorney throughout the state. They are fielding questions by SPD region. Please do not hesitate to reach out. 

For further information, please contact one of the immigration practice group coordinators in your SPD region:
Eau Claire, La Crosse, Madison, Superior
           Kara Rolf     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Janesville, Milwaukee, Waukesha
          Melissa Nepomiachi     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Racine, Stevens Point
         Mindy Nolan     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.