The Bronx Defenders

Immigration Practice Staff Attorney

Posted Date 5 months ago(10/9/2022 6:42 PM)
Job ID


The Bronx Defenders (BxD) – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks passionate immigration attorneys to fill staff attorney positions with our Immigration Practice.  


The Bronx Defenders is a public defender non-profit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the legal system, and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself. BxD seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic individuals with a strong commitment to social justice to join our dynamic and diverse staff. Our staff of over 400 includes interdisciplinary teams made up of criminal, civil, immigration, and family defense attorneys, as well as social workers, benefits specialists, legal advocates, parent advocates, investigators, and team administrators, who collaborate to provide holistic advocacy to address the causes and consequences of legal system involvement. Through this integrated team-based structure, we have developed a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for the people we represent. 


Each year, we defend more than 20,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases, and reach thousands more through our community intake, youth mentoring, and outreach programs. Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing, we push for systemic change at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the people we represent and communities we work with and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.  


Immigration Practice 


Immigration staff represent people in deportation proceedings in both detained and non-detained settings, provide affirmative immigration services, and pursue community-based litigation and advocacy aimed at transforming anti-immigrant federal laws and policy. The Immigration Practice consists of over fifty staff members including attorneys, social workers, legal advocates and administrative professionals. 


Integrated Criminal Defense and Immigration Representation 


Twenty years ago, The Bronx Defenders developed the model of integrated criminal defense and immigration representation. Our immigration attorneys and advocates work closely with people ensnared in the immigration legal system throughout the pendency of their cases in both Criminal and Family Court to avoid or mitigate negative immigration consequences.  


The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project(NYIFUP) 


Since 2013, our immigration advocates have served as assigned counsel at the Varick Street Immigration Court under the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the first-ever universal representation project in immigration court.  


Community Intake


In addition to representing people through NYIFUP and our arraignment process, the Bronx Defenders has a Community Intake Team which allows members of the Bronx community to walk into our office and proactively seek assistance with public benefits, as well as criminal, family, immigration, and civil legal issues. Community Intake Advocates from the Immigration Practice provide early intervention, assistance navigating legal systems, direct representation in affirmative and removal cases, and high-quality referrals for hundreds of community members each year. Intervention at this early stage helps people to avoid deportation proceedings.  


We are seeking immigration attorneys to join our NYIFUP and interdisciplinary teams.  


Our Team Based Immigration Attorneys partner with advocates from the Criminal and Family Defense practices to advise immigrants with pending criminal and family court cases of the potential immigration consequences of their pending cases and to develop alternate dispositions to mitigate the harm inflicted by those systems.Team Based attorneys also provide comprehensive wrap-around services to immigrant clients by identifying any immigration legal needs for people referred by Criminal and Family Defense advocates and representing them in removal proceedings and in applications for immigration benefits before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  


NYIFUP attorneys represent detained people in their removal and custody proceedings. The team also continues representing people in non-detained proceedings when they are able to secure release from detention. NYIFUP attorneys engage in representation before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and federal district and circuit courts. 

  • Engage in intensive client interviewing, counseling, research, writing, oral advocacy, and negotiations as part of legal representation
  • Identify holistic needs and legal goals of the people we represent, make referrals, and work with other attorney and non-attorney advocates to address and mitigate the enmeshed consequences of legal system involvement
  • Represent non-citizens before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Immigration Court on the full scope of matters, including Motions to Reopen/Reconsider, custody proceedings, challenges to removability and applications for relief 
  • Represent non-citizens before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and federal circuit and district courts
  • Represent non-citizens on applications for immigration benefits, including but not limited to citizenship, adjustment of status, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and U & T visas, and attend USCIS interviews 
  • Represent young people or their caretakers before Family Court to secure Special Findings Orders in support of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • Effectively litigate, confidently negotiate and skillfully advocate with adversaries on behalf of the people we represent
  • Co-counsel cases in other venues (e.g. Family Court, Civil Court, Administrative Hearings)
  • Maintain case files and data in BxD’s case management system
  • Lead and assist with external and internal trainings and presentations on immigration law and policy

Additional Team-Based Attorney Responsibilities

  • Conduct plea consults for non-citizens accused of crimes in Criminal Court and abuse or neglect in Family Court, advising on the immigration consequences of contemplated dispositions 
  • Collaborate with criminal and family defense advocates to mitigate the impact of charges by crafting and advocating for appropriate alternative sentences or dispositions
  • Represent people against various Department of Homeland Security (DHS) departments, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), to advocate against detention, the commencement of removal proceedings, and early dismissal
  • Meet with non-citizen clients in jails or prison

Additional NYIFUP Attorney Responsibilities  

  • Meet and coordinate remote communications with non-citizens in detention centers in the Hudson Valley and other areas outside of New York City and New Jersey
  • Staff our intake rotation before the Varick Street Immigration Court


We are specifically seeking applications from candidates with Spanish language skills and/or those from racially/ethnically marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by systemic injustice whose lived experiences contribute to more culturally conscious client representation 


To be eligible, applicants must have:  

  • License to practice law in New York or be eligible to become licensed to practice in New York
  • At least two (2) years of immigration law experience

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate: 

  • Commitment to directly defending indigent, system-involved individuals in the Bronx community and across the New York City region
  • Experience working in and with immigrant communities and/or low-income communities of color targeted by carceral systems
  • Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate and connect with people with various backgrounds, identities and experiences
  • Ability to work well independently as well as collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team of lawyers and non-lawyers
  • Commitment to fierce advocacy, and willingness to strategically challenge authority in defense of the people we represent and staff
  • Effective research, writing and courtroom advocacy skills
  • Strong analytical skills and capacity to employ non-legal resources
  • Ability to multitask, maintain order and meet deadlines in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Ability to think critically and creatively in fast-paced settings
  • Ability to receive constructive feedback, demonstrate introspection and shift behavior accordingly
  • Ability to exercise good judgment, discretion, and confidentiality with sensitive matters
  • Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level
  • Criminal-Immigration or relevant/equivalent experience is strongly preferred, but not required

This is a hybrid position that will require in-person work and contact with staff and community members.


Salary is commensurate with experience.  For candidates with 1-10 years of directly relevant experience, the salary range for this position would be approximately $72,865 to $94,350. Full-time employees are also eligible for a comprehensive benefits package including but not limited to medical, dental and vision coverage; a 403(b) plan with employer contribution; a generous vacation, sick leave, and parental leave policy; and a professional development fund. More specific information about salary and benefits will be provided when and if an offer is extended.   


Approximately 70% of The Bronx Defenders' staff, including attorneys and non-attorneys, are represented by UAW Local 2325 - Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO). This position is within the bargaining unit. 


This position is exempt. By law, nonexempt employees are compensated hourly based on their annual rate and therefore are entitled to over-time, whereas exempt employees are not.  


To apply, please click APPLY TO THIS JOB ONLINE and upload your resume and a cover letter in one document when prompted. If you would prefer to send in a video or audio statement in lieu of a cover letter, you may upload your resume as a document and separately upload a video or audio statement instead of a cover letter. Your cover letter or video/audio statement should share why you want to do this work at our office, some key lived and/or professional experiences that have prepared you for this position, and any additional information you would like for us to consider. Your cover letter may be up to one page if written or up to 3 minutes if an audio/video statement. This information allows us to understand your distinct perspective, experience and potential beyond the work history summarized on your resume. Please remember that you may submit a written cover letter or an audio/video statement, but not both, and applications without either will not be considered. The start date for this position is immediate or as soon as possible. 


Applications will be considered on a rolling basis and decisions will be made as soon as an appropriate candidate is identified. Please contact Karla Ostolaza, Managing Director, Immigration Practice, via email at with any questions regarding the position. 


The Bronx Defenders is an equal opportunity employer and is cultivating an anti-oppressive workplace that embraces staff with a diversity of backgrounds, identities and experiences. We acknowledge the ways in which systemic oppression and injustice can undermine access to professional opportunities and are committed to conducting hiring and promotion processes that are equitable and accessible to those commonly excluded from the workforce. We do not discriminate against and in fact specifically encourage applicants from marginalized communities to apply, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, disabled, neurodivergent and those directly impacted by criminal, civil, family and immigration legal systems. We value lived as well as professional experience and particularly welcome applications from the Bronx community that we work with. 


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