Stroock & Stroock & Lavan

Marked increases in immigration arrests, especially in and around courts, schools, places of worship, and health care facilities, have generated fear and uncertainty among immigrant communities and left many non-profit service providers questioning how to continue effectively assisting their immigrant clients.

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which helps provide legal resources to underserved communities, reports that many of its own clients have expressed fear of going to court or receiving life-saving medical care because of the perceived dangers of immigration enforcement.

To answer key questions from non-profits and service providers, law firm Stroock’s pro bono Public Service Project partnered with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to develop a guide for navigating complex legal questions and specific scenarios related to immigration enforcement.

One of the first comprehensive guides on this topic is NYLPI’s “Guidance to Nonprofits Regarding Immigration Enforcement,” which establishes best practices and outlines the rights of non-profits to comply with the law while protecting their immigrant clients.

“Given all that is going on in the world today, immigrant rights have taken on a larger role in Stroock's pro bono initiatives,” said Stroock Co-Managing Partner Jeff Keitelman.

“Through our Public Service Project, we have represented hundreds of immigrants and their families, as well as counseled non-profits that serve them, as part of our commitment to the underserved and vulnerable. It was a natural fit for Stroock to take a lead role to support this important initiative.”

Interactions with Immigration and Customs Enforcement are a central focus of the guidebook, which shares a template of step-by-step procedures and protocols for non-profits to consider during interactions with immigration agencies. It also goes into greater detail on a number of the issues.

For instance, the guide explains key on-the-ground issues, such as when ICE agents or police officers may access nonpublic areas in service providers’ facilities like private offices or sleeping quarters in a homeless shelter. It is only lawful with a judicial warrant signed by a judge or magistrate within the last 14 calendar days—administrative warrants signed by an immigration officer, however, do not authorize ICE agents to enter nonpublic areas. Sample copies of both judicial and administrative warrants are included for reference.

The guide also provides a comprehensive checklist of information for employees to collect following an ICE enforcement action in order to record important details about the interaction.

In addition to discussing face-to-face interactions, the guide covers material such as information searches (ICE agents may not require access to information on a personal phone or email account without a judicial warrant, although they can access information saved on a publically accessible computer, such as one in a library), guidelines surrounding subpoena requests and how they’re impacted by rules such as HIPAA and FERPA, and protecting documents covered by attorney-client privilege.

“Non-profits and service providers must send a strong message to immigrant communities by establishing explicit policies,” writes NYPLI.

“With pro bono partners Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, we developed this guide to outline the rights of non-profits to protect their immigrant clients and establish best practices.”