Ethical Advocacy for Immigrant Survivors of Family Crisis

Authors

  • Theo Liebmann


Correspondence: theo.liebmann@hofstra.edu

Abstract

The involvement of family courts in the lives of youth and families creates significant opportunities for advocates to assist their clients with immigration-related issues. Informed and effective advocacy on these issues in family court can make life-changing, and even life-saving, differences for immigrants. More specifically, immigration issues are germane to family court because certain vital avenues of immigration relief available to survivors of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and other forms of family crisis explicitly depend on findings, orders, and certifications that are issued in the context of family court proceedings. After describing these forms of relief, and the family court's role in immigrants’ access to them, this essay analyzes how ethical mandates related to client counseling, representational goals, and competence affirmatively require family court practitioners to provide advice and advocacy related to these collateral benefits to family court proceedings.

Key Points for Family Court Community:

  • The involvement of family courts in the lives of youth and families creates significant opportunities for advocates to assist their clients with immigration-related issues
  • Certain vital avenues of immigration relief available to survivors of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and other forms of family crisis explicitly depend on findings, orders, and certifications that are issued in the context of family court proceedings
  • The substance of immigration-related findings in family court, and their ultimate affect on family stability, are consistent with the core family court goal of supporting safety, well-being, and permanency for children and families
  • Ethical mandates related to client counseling, representational goals, and competence affirmatively require family court practitioners to provide advice and advocacy related to these collateral benefits to family court proceedings

Ancillary