OneJustice & Partners Launch Immigrant Clean Slate Clinic

By Lydia Sinkus
July 9, 2019

California is home to more than 5 million non-citizen immigrants. When noncitizens interact with the criminal justice system, they are impacted in many of the ways citizens are — facing barriers to obtaining jobs, education, and housing even after serving their time on a conviction.

However a conviction can carry additional long-term consequences for a noncitizen, including deportation and permanent separation from family and community, regardless of time in or ties to the United States. Even a long-time Legal Permanent Resident can be deported and permanently banned from entering the U.S. based on a low-level, non-violent conviction.

California currently offers unique post-conviction relief laws that can mitigate these extreme consequences. Attorney assistance is crucial to providing access to the opportunity at a second chance afforded by these laws. However, there are few legal service providers able to provide free or low-cost services to clients with overlapping immigration and criminal law issues. This gap in legal services is particularly stark in non-urban areas with high immigrant populations.

With immigrant communities increasingly under attack, the need for innovative models to provide immigration-focused clean slate services has never been greater. Through a generous Equal Justice Works fellowship sponsored by Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe and PayPal, OneJustice recently launched a new legal clinic focused on providing equal access to second chances to all members of our community.

Working closely with community partner Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, OneJustice piloted an Immigrant Clean Slate Intake Clinic in Stockton, California. This free mobile legal clinic is one of the first of its kind, tailored to serve noncitizens in rural communities navigating life with a prior conviction.

Working closely with community partner Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, OneJustice piloted an Immigrant Clean Slate Intake Clinic in Stockton, California. This free mobile legal clinic is one of the first of its kind, tailored to serve noncitizens in rural communities navigating life with a prior conviction.

Thanks to the work of Orrick attorneys Ariel Winters, Mike Arena, Jazmin Holmes, and Spencer Wan, in partnership with PayPal pro bono volunteers, James Lindfelt and Ripal Patel, clients received free Live Scan services, a thorough screening, and information on how to best protect themselves and their legal status. Information collected will allow OneJustice and partners at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to screen clients for deportation risk and to identify clean slate and immigration options to keep clients with their families and communities.

OneJustice looks forward to having these clients continue to Part Two of the Immigrant Clean Slate Clinic, where pro bono volunteers will work with clients to complete clean slate petitions and to formulate legal self-defense strategies. Eligible clients will then be referred to immigration partners to apply for naturalization and other immigration benefits.

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