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Criminal convictions often have devastating immigration consequences for noncitizens in the United States. Noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to deportable offenses face the immigration consequence of deportation with no opportunity to seek relief from removal. However, Congress’s progressive steps to impose harsher and harsher consequences on noncitizens convicted of crimes have not gone unnoticed; attorney practices, professional standards, and even laws in some states have evolved to offer basic protections to noncitizen defendants. For example, the American Bar Association recommends, and many states’ laws require, that criminal trial judges warn defendants about possible immigration consequences of guilty pleas. Nevertheless, federal law did not provide for such protections for noncitizen defendants until the Supreme Court’s ("the Court") 2010 decision in Padilla v. Kentucky. Padilla declared that the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel encompasses a noncitizen defendant’s right to be warned by his or her criminal defense attorney of the potential immigration consequences of accepting a guilty plea.
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