Saturday, June 25, 2011
In Padilla v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court recognized a noncitizen criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to receive accurate advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea. This Article argues that although Padilla represents a major step forward, its reach will be uneven. Looking at what Padilla will mean for those who have been deported on the basis of constitutionally defective guilty pleas, the author identifies two factors that may limit the decision’s impact. First, restrictions on state and federal postconviction relief, combined with the logistical and evidentiary complexities inherent in litigating a claim from abroad, will present significant obstacles to pursuing Padilla claims. Secondly, a deportee who prevails on a Padilla claim may find that the vacatur of the conviction fails to provide her with any basis for regaining her former immigration status. In response to these potential limitations, this Article proposes a set of reforms to bring Padilla’s promise to fruition. The proposals focus on making mechanisms for postconviction review accessible to deportees and providing ways for deportees to return to the United States temporarily to pursue Padilla claims and permanently if they are successful in such claims.