Immigration Unit Staff Attorney, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender


The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender is one of the largest criminal defense firms in the Country, with over 500 attorneys and 600 employees overall, representing thousands of Cook County residents charged with every type of criminal offense and child protection violation.  The Public Defender has the responsibility to staff courtrooms throughout the Circuit Court of Cook County.  We represent clients in 14 separate locations, including 5 Suburban Courthouses, Juvenile Court, Domestic Relations Court, Traffic Court, 5 branch court locations throughout Chicago, and the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
In 2020, the Law Office launched an Immigration Unit and now seeks to staff the Unit with two staff attorneys, a paralegal, and a caseworker.


Under the supervision of the Immigration Unit Attorney Supervisor, the Immigration Unit staff attorney will work solely on immigration related matters, providing training and case-specific advice to Assistant Public Defenders (APDs) representing non-citizen clients, as required by the Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky.  The staff attorney will also represent individuals before the Chicago immigration court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and Department of Homeland Security. Must understand and practice the mission of the Office.  Will remain current on immigration law, policies, and procedures, including any implications of criminal and civil law as it applies to the representation of immigrants.


  • Provide comprehensive assessments to APDs representing non-citizen clients regarding the impact of any pending charge or potential plea offer that will affect the client's ability to lawfully remain and/or obtain lawful status in the United States.
  • Assist APDs in gathering relevant information to compile a comprehensive assessment.
  • Communicate directly with APO clients and their families as necessary, to review immigration
  • documentation. Client communication will involve meeting with detained clients at Cook County Jail.
  • Review and assess information obtained from APO clients related to current immigration situations and the potential impact of a criminal conviction.
  • Record Padilla assessments in eDefender (case management system) and monitor the progress of cases with completed assessments.
  • Assist APDs to convey Padilla advisals to clients.
  • Work with APDs to mitigate adverse immigration consequences including: drafting memoranda to the State's Attorney's office and/or judge seeking an alternate offer or sentence, or identifying alternate
  • plea options to best avoid harmful immigration consequences.
  • In collaboration with the Attorney Supervisor, provide training to APDs regarding immigration law as it relates to criminal defense work.
  • In collaboration with the Attorney Supervisor, provide training to outside organizations and
  • community groups, regarding the impact of criminal charges related to an individual's immigration status and/or options to legalize status.
  • Draft and distribute handouts and flyers regarding the Immigration Unit and criminal immigration
  • matters to APDs and outside community groups.
  • Represent non-citizens before the Chicago Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and Department of Homeland Security through a universal representation model.
  • Represent non-citizens within the jurisdiction of the Chicago Immigration Court, including current and prior Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender clients.
  • Advocate for release of clients in ICE custody by filing bond redetermination motions with the
  • immigration court and/or filing requests for release with ICE.
  • Defend clients against deportation by contesting removal and/or filing applications for immigration relief on their behalf with the immigration court, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and ICE. Applications may include cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents, nonpermanent residents, and victims of domestic violence; adjustment of status; asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture protection; T and U visas, inadmissibility waivers; VAWA self-petitions and SU petitions; voluntary departure; and requests for prosecutorial discretion.
  • Establish and maintain contact with Immigration Unit clients, including periodically visiting with clients in detention centers and regularly speaking with clients on the phone.


  • Graduation from an accredited school of law with a Juris Doctorate degree.
  • Maintain and provide proof of a current Law License in good standing in any State in the United
  • States of America.
  • Two (2) years of immigration removal defense experience.
  • Own or have access to an automobile and possess a valid driver's license for travel as needed.
  • Must communicate in Spanish both verbally and in written formats.
  • Prior removal defense of immigration clients detained in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and/or criminal defense experience preferred.

How to Apply:

To apply, submit resume and cover letter here.