JUSTICE DETAINED, JUSTICE DENIED: Immigration and Customs Enforcement Prevents Immigrants from Fighting Unlawful Criminal Convictions

Throughout its history, New York City has been a city of immigrants: in both 1900 and 2011, 37% of the city’s population was foreign-born.[i] Today, more than three million New Yorkers are immigrants, and 60% of the city’s residents are immigrants or the children of immigrants.[ii] At the same time, New York is a city in which one in nine adults has been convicted of a crime in the last ten years.[iii] It is well documented that racial bias, discrimination and disproportionate suffering of people of color is present at every stage of the criminal justice system [iv] (from Stop and Frisk[v], to legal representation, to sentencing[vi]). Given that people of color are stopped on the street and arrested at nearly nine times the rate of white people,[vii] and 83% of foreign-born New Yorkers are people of color,[viii] it is no surprise that many immigrants have been deported after contact with the city’s criminal justice system. This population is reflected in the 13,000 inmates imprisoned at NYC’s Rikers Island.


[i] N.Y.C. Dep’t of City Planning, The Newest New Yorkers: Characteristics of the City’s Foreign-born Population 9 (2013) [hereinafter The Newest New Yorkers], available at

[ii] Id. at 2.

[iii] N.Y. State Dep’t of Criminal Justice Servs., Computerized Criminal History Sys., New York City: Adult Convictions By Year (2014).

[iv] See generally, Cyndi Banks,. Criminal Justice Ethics ch. 3 (3d ed. 2013).   


[v] See Juan Gonzalez,. Gonzalez: Judge’s ruling on stop-and-frisk confirms policy’s racial bias,Daily News


[vi] See generally, Racial Disparity, The Sentencing Project.


[vii] N.Y. Police Dep’t, Stop Question & Frisk Activity 26 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013), available at

[viii] The Newest New Yorkers, supra note 6, at 12.