Whether a visitor or a long-time permanent resident, anyone who is not a U.S. citizen can be deported or barred from returning to the United States because they have committed a criminal offense, even a minor one. At a time when immigrants and their families have become political targets because of their race, religion and/or nationality, it is important to ensure that everyone is treated equally, and that the fundamental principles of due process are preserved. 

The United States Supreme Court has recognized the need for equal treatment of non-citizens in criminal court, and held that the Sixth Amendment requires competent defense counsel to advise non-citizen clients of the immigration consequences of a guilty plea or conviction.

The Immigrant Rights Project (IRP) provides personalized advice to public defense providers regarding the immigration consequences of pleas and convictions for non-citizens. IRP attorneys work with defense counsel to assess the risks of detention, deportation, and inadmissibility, as well as the likelihood and best options for discretionary relief from deportation based on the non-citizen’s criminal, immigration, family, and personal history.

In addition to technical assistance, the IRP will post practice advisories and other resources for defense and immigration attorneys to use in representing their clients. A priority will be to create and maintain resources that reflect the dynamic changes in this complex area of law. Ultimately, the IRP aims to expand into a statewide network of experienced immigration attorneys able to provide localized immigration-related advice to defense counsel.

Please note that we do not represent individuals in their immigration or criminal cases through this project. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime and are a non-citizen, you should have your public defender contact us for assistance.


Public defense providers can request IRP case assistance by submitting a brief Immigration Referral form to the Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS). After you submit your request, you will receive a confirmation email from IRP with further instructions. Questions can be directed to J.J. Rollin or Erin McKee at 503-944-2270.


Erin McKee

Erin McKee is a co-founder of the Oregon Justice Resource Center and an immigration attorney who believes we’re all in this together. She began her public interest law career assisting refugees and low-income immigrants to obtain family-based and humanitarian immigration benefits. In private practice, she represented individuals fleeing persecution, families seeking to reunite, and immigrants accused of crimes, among others. She has represented clients in criminal proceedings before state courts as well as before immigration courts, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of State.

As a young intern at a feminist human rights NGO in India, she asked her mentor if she could stay and continue the work. She was politely told to go home and fix her own country. In furtherance of that mission, she eventually went to law school. Erin is driven by the belief that the justice system should be accountable to all of us, and that we should be accountable to each other, regardless of borders.

JD, Lewis and Clark Law School
MS Conflict Resolution, Portland State University
BA, summa cum laude, University of Iowa

Joseph Justin "j.J." Rollin

Joseph Justin "J.J." Rollin has dedicated his career to helping non-citizens and their families before the Immigration Courts and USCIS.  His work is focused on “crimmigration” issues, including working with criminal defense counsel to minimize the immigration consequences of pending criminal charges.   

J.J. is the co-author of several books on how to defend immigrants with criminal convictions, or facing criminal charges, against deportation, including N. Tooby & J. Rollin, Criminal Defense of Immigrants (4th Ed. 2007); N. Tooby & J. Rollin, Aggravated Felonies (2d Ed. 2006); and N. Tooby, J. Rollin & J. Foster, Tooby’s Crimes of Moral Turpitude (2008).  He also worked with the Washington Defender’s Immigration Project to help draft the first comprehensive analysis and chart of immigration consequences of crimes for Washington State. 

Prior to entering private practice, J.J. was an Attorney Advisor for the Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Courts), where he assisted more than fifteen Immigration Judges in all aspects of the law related to asylum and removal.

J.J. has practiced immigration law since 2001. He is a member of the Oregon State Bar, the Washington State Bar, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the National Lawyers Guild National Immigration Project, and the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

JD, University of Washington
BA Japanese and BA Japanese Studies, University of Washington
Japan in Today's World Program, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan