On March 21, 2016, Safe Passage Project mentor attorney Rex Chen helped train over 65 people on how to seek prosecutorial discretion for people in New York City Immigration Court. With the help of Jodi Ziesemer, a Supervising Attorney at Catholic Charities (Archdiocese of NY), Rex offered a wide range of practical tips, creative strategies, and information. The audience learned when to seek prosecutorial discretion, how to request it, how to prepare a strong request, what the government’s view is, and what to do if the request is granted or denied. Rex and Jodi also encouraged them to think about what values are being promoted when creating a prosecutorial discretion request – for example, whether emphasizing that a client’s parents are hard-working may devalue people who do not work full-time because of child-care issues.
The audience, which was comprised of practitioners, students, professors, and community members, was remarkably energetic and engaged with the material. The presentation explored creative ways to use multifaceted approaches to prosecutorial discretion including the use of photos, videos, and the implications of new programs such as DAPA. The audience members shared ideas and were lively during breakout sessions as they analyzed two sample cases. Afterward, many people felt the training was informative, well-organized, and great at focusing on practical tips.
Rex and Jodi also showed excerpts of three videos during the training. Two videos showed how video could be powerful when seeking prosecutorial discretion and another video was poet Claudia Rankine reading from her book Citizen.
Safe Passage Project will launch an email discussion in the coming weeks to share ideas, questions, and notes. Please contact us if you would like to join the discussion. The training was co-sponsored by Safe Passage Project, the NY Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York. It was held at New York Law School.
Rex and Jodi thanked: The New York City Council, New York Community Trust, and Robin Hood for funding the ICARE project. The ICARE Coalition, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, and Leslie Wagner. Dr. Alan Shapiro, Dr. Cristina Munic, and the Terra Firma staff. Rebecca Sosa and Greg Pietrzak, who are involved with the NY chapter of AILA. Catholic Charities staff, including Raluca Oncioiu and Jacqueline Stabnow. Safe Passage Project staff including Lenni Benson, Claire Thomas, Stephanie Gibbs, Charlotte Fager, and Yamilette Alvarez. And Jacqueline Stabnow (a second time).