Strategic Activity Areas

 The Center for Public Policy Studies Strategic Immigration Initiative has undertaken six major activity areas to address the four strategic priorities.

First, we are identifying the major challenges and opportunities state courts need to address when dealing with immigrants in the courts and establishing a web-based resource network.

We are interested particularly in the impacts of immigration on caseloads, court operations, resources, service delivery and overall performance. Our goal is to provide systematic, comprehensive documentation of the issues and challenges facing state courts in delivering services to immigrants. There is a substantial body of literature that discusses immigration issues generally but not how those issues affect courts and court services. Also, while in the past there have been numerous stories from individual courts that illustrate the challenges they face in serving this population, there have not been comprehensive compilations of what those challenges are or how courts have addressed those challenges. To address this gap, we have been and will continue to gather and summarize information from numerous sources to inventory immigration issues and how those issues affect or may affect the state courts.

Second, we are working with a number of diverse court jurisdictions to learn first hand what challenges they face in addressing the needs of immigrant populations that use the courts and how to best address those challenges

The initial six learning sites were the Maricopa County Superior Court, the Miami-Dade County Superior Court, and The Eighth Judicial District of Minnesota, located in rural Western Minnesota, the State of Delaware Courts, and two projects for District and Circuit Courts in seven counties located in South-Eastern Michigan. As the project continues additional sites are recruited to participate in the effort. 

The learning sites have been and will continue to be selected for their known concerns about how immigration is affecting court services in their jurisdictions, the diversity of the immigrant populations they serve, and geographic location. The purpose of working with the sites is to identify the range of issues they have encountered in providing services to immigrants, what impacts those issues have had on the courts, how the courts have responded, what tools/processes they believe would help them deal with immigration issues going forward, and what actions they are going to take to respond in the future.

Third, we have prepared separate electronic, interactive bench guides for assisting judges across the nation address the practical implications of state court criminal case processing involving immigrants, and a second bench guide addressing the nexus of federal immigration status and family, juvenile, and dependency case processing

Fourth, we are preparing an interactive electronic Guidebook for Addressing the Impacts of Immigration in the State Courts that can be used in courts across the nation

Available in June 2010, the Guidebook incorporates the practical lessons learned from the nine pilot learning sites and all the other research conducted during the Initiative. The contents of the Guidebook for Addressing the Impacts of Immigration in the State Courts are structured around a detailed description of a step-by-step assessment and improvement process accompanied by a series of tools and resources, such as answers to frequently asked questions, summaries of lessons learned, session worksheets and extensive web-links to statutes, census data and numerous other types of information about immigration topics. 

Fifth, we are developing and conducting courses for judges and court personnel for addressing the impacts of immigration in the state courts and establishing and coordinating a nation-wide training network.

Although we have designed the training to be flexible to meet local needs, the focus of judge training includes general information about the nexus of federal, state, and local immigration law, policy, and practice and the practical implications of these connections on criminal, family, juvenile, and dependency case processing.   The court personnel course stresses understanding the scope and consequences of immigration on a trial court and identifying and implementing improvements. The contents of the courses are built around the criminal and family bench guides and the guide for court administrators.

Moreover, to promote the effective use of the immigration and state courts courses by court training and support organizations across the nation we will be working with a variety of organizations – such as the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Judicial College, the National Association for Court Management, and the National Association of State Judicial Educators – to establish an immigration component as part of their educational programs. We will also identify potential faculty and establish a network of faculty capable of teaching about immigration and the state courts.

The learning objectives for courses designed for trial court judges emphasize that, as a result of the program, participants will be able to:

·    Comprehend the important strategic policy choices judges need to make about immigration and the state courts.

·    Identify the different types of legal immigrants.

·    Identify criminal convictions and sentences that might put a legal immigrant at risk for removal.

·    Identify criminal defendants in plea hearings who might be in need of legal advice on the immigration consequences of a proposed plea.

·    Identify immigration issues that might affect child custody or placement.

·    Identify individuals who might have difficulty meeting conditions for probation in a criminal, domestic violence, or juvenile offender case due to immigration status.

·    Identify individuals who might have difficulty meeting conditions for family reunification in a dependency case due to ineligibility to work or access services.

The learning objectives for courses designed for state level court policy-makers and administrators, and trial court policy-makers, administrators, and staff stress that, as a result of the program, participants will be able to:

·      Understand why state courts need to be concerned about immigration.

·      Understand the important interconnections among federal, state, and local immigration law, policy, and practice.

·      Understand the important strategic policy choices courts need to make about immigration and the state courts.

·      Identify the most important impacts of immigration law, policy, and practice on their court.

·      Identify the most important impacts of immigration law, policy, and practice on their job.

·      Identify improvements that the court can make to address immigration related issues.

·      Use a variety of assessment and improvement tools for addressing immigration in their court.

Sixth, we are helping to establish and facilitate an on-going federal/state dialog to promote better collaboration between federal and state courts and justice organizations when addressing immigration issues that impact the state courts

This dialog is especially important now as broader national immigration reform is contemplated.  As noted previously, we have prepared numerous materials about the nexus of federal, state and local immigration law, policy, and practice. The topics addressed have been far reaching, encompassing everything from the connections among criminal, family, and, juvenile law and policy to the impacts of immigration on caseloads, court operations, resources, service delivery and performance measurement. 

Expanding on this foundation, we intend to produce comprehensive materials that examine how the work of the state courts in cases involving immigrant could be enhanced substantially by collaborating more closely with the numerous local and state justice partners and federal organizations involved in immigration matters, including Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Housing and Human Services, the federal judiciary, the federal immigration courts, federal corrections and probation, and other U.S. Department of Justice units. 

In addition, these publications will examine the items that need to be addressed as part of any comprehensive federal immigration reform effort. The focus here would be on how to accommodate the needs of the state courts while serving the needs of immigrants in state courts. 

 

FEATURED RESEARCH
CPPS FEATURED RESEARCH
RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Immigration and the State Courts Assessment

RELATED PUBLICATIONS
RELATED PUBLICATIONS
Pew Hispanic Center l Research and Publications
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