Alternatives to Police as First Responders: Crisis Response Programs


By Matthew DeLaus*

October 8, 2020


For 911 calls about someone in crisis, who should respond? Many cities have decided it should not solely be police. A national poll conducted in June found that 70% of likely voters support a non-police response for 911 calls about mental health crises, and 68% support the creation of non-police emergency response programs.1

In many jurisdictions, police are the first to respond (first responders) to 911 calls about people experiencing issues related to mental health, homelessness, and substance abuse. However, they often do not have adequate training to deal with these calls.2

Programs replacing police with social workers, mental health counselors, and medical staff have been in operation for at least a year in Austin, Texas; Eugene, Oregon; Olympia, Washington; and Edmonton, Canada. Eugene’s program has operated since 1989, and in 2019 responded to 20% (24,000) of all 911 calls, with a police backup request rate of 0.625% (160).3 These programs are focused on providing more appropriate services and

reducing government spending. Other cities have recently begun or approved crisis response programs of their own.4

Potential benefits include budgetary savings, diverting individuals from a higher level of care, and reducing dependence on policing and the criminal justice system to deal with people experiencing crisis. There are also obstacles, as well as many questions about program design and implementation. Some considerations are universal, and some vary based on how each program is structured, as well as its size and scope.

Although the programs vary, takeaways for local governments attempting to implement a crisis response program are to (i) include stakeholders in the program design process,

(ii) aim to build trust within the police department and community, (iii) have a designated place within the 911 and emergency-response processes, (iv) have adequate funding with access to mid-year increases if necessary, (v) have a capable host organization/agency and be appropriately administratively housed, (vi) properly train employees, 911 call-takers, and other first responders, (vii) use past and current call data to inform operations, and (viii) have the ability to transfer or refer clients to other service providers.

Who Operates Crisis-Response Programs?

The organizations that operate crisis- response programs generally do so through a subcontract with the city or police department (with the exception of Edmonton’s program, which is run by a nonprofit).5

Eugene’s CAHOOTS is administered by White Bird Clinic,6 an independent nonprofit which has provided community-based healthcare services (including mobile crisis response) since 1969, and is well known in the Eugene community.7 Workers “are White Bird Clinic employees, contracting with the police department, and the county.”8

Austin’s EMCOT program is administered by the Travis County (which encompasses Austin) Local Behavioral Health Authority,9 called Integral Care, which is a community- based mental-health center that has been providing behavioral health services for over five decades.10 In addition to mobile call- response staff, some mental-health counselors are stationed at Austin’s 911 call center.11 Travis County EMS also oversees the Community Health Paramedics program, which targets frequent users of 911 and provides mobile case management, both medical and non-medical.12 Workers are employed by the Travis County Healthcare District13 through a contract with the city.14

Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit is administered by Recovery Innovations International, which is a mental health services provider from the neighboring county with “14 crisis programs in five states,” although it has no other alternative first response programs.15 The Administrative Services Division of the Olympia Police Department handles the contract, because that division does not include sworn officers.16

Edmonton’s 24/7 Crisis Diversion program is administered by REACH, a “backbone” organization, or “community-based coordinating council” funded by the city.17 Program workers are employed by Boyle Street Community Services and Hope Mission (two local nonprofits that provide similar services in Edmonton), and the call- takers are employed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (211).18

What Kind of Services Do Alternative First Responders Provide?

They are voluntary, meaning people can refuse services and opt for a police or EMS response instead. Because they are mobile, they can engage clients directly without being dispatched, except for Austin’s EMCOT, which is dispatched by 911 or other first responders.19 Currently, 911 calls about a person in crisis are generally responded to either by police officers trained in a forty hour “Crisis Intervention Team” program, or by police officers with no training beyond the police academy.20 Current mobile crisis response programs are run either at the county-level or by a nonprofit organization; workers are not

dispatched after 911 calls, but at the request of law enforcement on scene. The programs are generally underfunded.21 People experiencing issues related to untreated mental illness are sixteen times more likely to die during encounters with police than other civilians.22

Also, programs can either preempt other first responders from responding to a call, or allow other first responders to leave a scene when it is unnecessary for them to stay.23 911 call-takers in Eugene use the same channel to dispatch CAHOOTS and the police department, both of whom use the same radios. If a CAHOOTS worker has a relationship with the person being called about, they can communicate with the officer to either replace them as a responder or co-respond. Additionally, other first responders can call CAHOOTS workers to the scene of a call, and “leave the scene” with CAHOOTS workers. This saves time for those first responders to respond to other calls.

All programs can attend to non-emergency medical issues, although in Austin those are generally dealt with by the Community Health Paramedics.24 Workers in all of the programs also all have the ability to transfer or refer clients to appropriate services or agencies with the client’s consent.25

CAHOOTS and EMCOT workers also teach methods of crisis management and conflict resolution to law enforcement and community members.26

In Eugene, CAHOOTS workers respond to a variety of other non-emergency calls, and

provide services including, but not limited to:

  • conflict resolution and mediation;
  • dispute mediation and resolution between family members, roommates, or clients at group homes or agencies;
  • delivering death notifications;
  • welfare checks;
  • grief and loss counseling;
  • substance use and abuse counseling;
  • providing water bottles, socks, and other basic supplies to people;
  • addressing housing crises;
  • first aid and non-emergency medical care;
  • resource connection and referrals;
  • providing direct funds for essential items;
  • transportation to services, and
  • situations in general that do not involve emergent medical or criminal issues.27

When other first responders notice someone in distress from a call (like someone who called about a home invasion), they can ask that person if they’d like CAHOOTS to come and help them process what they’re feeling.28 At least once, a CAHOOTS worker has de-escalated a situation by standing between an officer and a civilian to prevent the officer from using mace, but it is unclear if that is a common or accepted practice.29 CAHOOTS did not originally have the ability to do most of these things, but as it gained expertise and trust with the department and community, its functions expanded.30

Appendices B and C are tables of available response data for 24/7 and CAHOOTS.

Connecting Clients to Other Service Providers and Programs

Organizations that host crisis-response programs are mostly local organizations that did similar work in their communities before they began administering their respective programs.31 This helps them to connect clients to multiple agencies to provide sustainable support, especially for clients with more complex needs.32 Common partners include healthcare providers, hospitals, homeless shelters, homeless- outreach agencies, mental-health clinics, substance-abuse programs and clinics, and other emergency-services diversion programs. Austin’s EMCOT program works in tandem with Austin’s other nontraditional 911 program, the Community Health Paramedics.33 Olympia’s CRU program was funded by a 2017 public-safety levy approved by voters.34 That levy also paid for a program called Familiar Faces, which targets and assists frequent users of emergency services to better support them with long-term care.35

Program Operations

Point of Access

The CAHOOTS program coordinator said their “biggest struggle” is figuring out how clients can access their services, and said it is the “key thing” for communities implementing a crisis response program.36 The Eugene Chief of Police testified before the Oregon legislature that the most important aspect of the program was its ability to be dispatched by the 911 call center.37

All programs can be called by other social service agencies.38 Only Edmonton’s 24/7 program is not able to be dispatched directly by 911 call centers.39 CAHOOTS and EMCOT did not originally have that  ability,40 while Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit was integrated into the 911 process from its beginning.41 Austin’s original crisis response program, MCOT, is available at a standalone phone number housed at Integral Care’s clinic, while EMCOT is available to 911 dispatchers, EMS, and law enforcement.42 Austin 911 dispatchers are now trained to ask whether the caller needs police, fire, or mental health services.43 In Olympia, some clients have asked for a standalone number because when they call 911 and ask for the CRU, police “intercept” their call.44 In Edmonton, REACH attempts to direct as many 24/7 calls to 211 as possible in order to save 911 callers and dispatchers the time of answering, assessing, and transferring calls; 72% of the program’s 2018 calls were directly to 211 in 2018.45 EMCOT also receives referrals and has staff at hospitals and the county corrections complex to connect individuals who may be unable to overcome barriers to services post- release.46

Call-takers are trained to screen for calls that their crisis-response programs are able to respond to, and assess whether there is a likelihood of violence or danger.47 A copy of the “911 Dispatch Call-Taking Manual” for CAHOOTS response can be found in section VIII of this report.


Except for Edmonton, where 24/7 partners with 211, each city used its preexisting 911

call center to dispatch calls. In Eugene and Olympia, program workers also carry police radios with the ability to divert calls directly from police, initiate their own interactions, or respond to first responders at a scene to provide assistance.48 In Austin, EMCOT workers are stationed at the 911 call center49 with iPads, where they can take calls directly from dispatchers, or from first responders at scenes.50 Appendix F is a diagram of the CAHOOTS’ dispatch process.

Diversion from Higher Level of Care/Police Response

CAHOOTS called for police backup in 150 of their 24,000 responses last year, or a rate of 1 in every 160 responses (0.625%).51 They respond to about 70% of their calls without any other first responders.52 Last year, CAHOOTS responded to roughly 20% of all calls dispatched by 911 for Eugene and the neighboring city of Springfield.53 Appendix C is a table of available response data for CAHOOTS.

98.7% of law enforcement referrals to EMCOT divert from arrest, and 75.1% of EMS referrals divert from emergency- department transfer and admission.54 EMCOT relieves first responders within 10– 15 minutes after arriving at a scene 85–90% of the time.55 Arrests of people with mental illnesses in Austin during the program’s first year reduced by 30 percent.56 Since the program began in 2013, 7,214 clients have been served, with 3,182 dispatches in 2019.57

Travis County’s Community Health Paramedics “served 1,164 individuals in fiscal year 2019.”58 The program is being

expanded, and the county EMS association noted that the city’s recent efforts to decriminalize homelessness have made the program more effective.59 By 2019, the program had “contributed to a 60 percent reduction in emergency calls from its target population.”60

In the first two months of Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit, it responded to about 700 calls.61

Following the previous “MAP” program, after 4 years of Edmonton’s 24/7 program, it had responded to over 6,000 unique clients and 38,000 crisis events.62 In 2019, 25% to 30% of calls were referred to more appropriate services.63 Appendix B is a table of available response data for 24/7.


Each program operates with mobile two- person teams.64 Programs use vans that are owned by the host organization or the city and filled with supplies.65

EMCOT workers are master’s level clinicians.66 The Community Health Paramedics staff of 15 is divided by the populations they serve (i.e., chronically homeless, elderly, recently incarcerated), and have an average of 15 years of experience.67 Olympia’s CRU is “made up of nurses and behavioral health specialists.”68 24/7 workers must have at least two years of experience in delivering community-based services, experience working with partners and stakeholders, and

a knowledge and understanding of poverty- related issues.69 It is preferred that workers have a degree in social services or a related

field, but candidates who have relevant and related experience are also considered.70

Each CAHOOTS team consists of one medic (a nurse, paramedic, or EMT, who must be state certified with at least an EMT-B certification) and a mental health crisis worker who has substantial training and experience in the mental health field, with a degree preferred but not required.71 Some of the medical staff are current nursing students.72 Many workers are trained to perform both roles.73 Training for CAHOOTS workers lasts “6 months to a year.”74 Due to their training, in 31 years of the program no staff member has ever been in a major traffic collision or suffered a major injury while responding to a call.75 “A non-judgmental and client-centered approach to communication and service delivery is emphasized. Trainees begin as observers, watching trained team members handle a variety of calls. They also attend weekly debrief sessions to promote better client care as well as address issues of boundaries, rescuing, and worker self-care in order to avoid burnout. Workers must also pass an extensive background check.”76 On average, the training is 500 hours in the field and up to twenty hours in the classroom.77 CAHOOTS workers rely on trauma-informed de-escalation and harm reduction techniques.78 The administrative coordinator of the program said there are a “trifecta” of qualities they look for: technical knowledge in the area of medical and behavioral health; a belief in client-centered care; and personal experience in crisis situations.79 The coordinator said those qualities are helpful so workers can “bring the level of empathy and compassion to the work that we expect of our workers, and

that that’s a really tricky mix to sometimes find.”80

Job descriptions for the programs can be found at the following links: CAHOOTS Medics, and Crisis Intervention Workers; CRU; EMCOT, 24/7.

Client Data

All of CAHOOTS’ services are confidential, free, and voluntary.81 CAHOOTS workers  log details of their dispatches, including names and addresses of people they interacted with, their mental health diagnoses (if any), and behavioral patterns.82 Teams utilize these logs when they are dispatched, allowing them to know what works for specific clients based on past interactions.83 24/7 workers record their interactions with clients in an app created by REACH to store client information, so the information can be shared between teams in order to best match the needs of clients.84 The app also automatically generates reports and maps with the aggregate data.85 Before creating the app, REACH conducted an impact assessment to determine potential client privacy issues.86

Populations Served

Most CAHOOTS clients are experiencing homelessness, and just under a third have a severe mental illness.87 CAHOOTS also responds to calls from the University of Oregon Eugene Campus88 and local schools.89 Appendix E is a chart with the most common CAHOOTS call factors. 24/7 mostly assists people who are homeless, but some disorder calls for service are diverted from police dispatch to the teams.90 The City of Edmonton is in the process of analyzing its 911 dispatch data to see how many calls related to mental health, addiction, and homelessness could be diverted to an expanded 24/7 program.91 Of all the people served by EMCOT in 2019, 29% were experiencing homelessness.92

How Programs Got Started

White Bird Clinic, which runs Eugene’s CAHOOTS program, ran a mobile crisis- response program directly through their clinic for years before CAHOOTS began. CAHOOTS has increased from a budget of $288,000 and a staff of 15 in 201093 to a $2.1 million budget94 and a staff of over 40 in 2020.95

The pilot program for Austin’s EMCOT was known as MCOT, and began in 2006 “without engagement from APD or EMS.”96 The program grew in 2012 as a result of DSRIP funding.97 DSRIP is a type of “Medicaid Redesign” which compensates service providers with Medicaid funds to provide services more efficiently.98 In 2013, Integral Care created the EMCOT (Expanded MCOT) program to be available to on-scene first responders.99 Later, EMCOT began to take calls directly from 911 operators, and also has clinicians at the 911 Call Center to respond to calls.100 Unlike other cities’ pilot programs, MCOT still operates as a standalone service.101

Austin’s Community Health Paramedics program was created in 2009 and is a DSRIP program administered by the Travis County EMS.102 The program is currently being expanded with city funding.103

Olympia’s CRU is in its second year and was integrated into the emergency response system from its beginning. For three months before responding to calls on their own, CRU workers co-responded to calls with officers to build trust with officers and the community, and also to make themselves known in the areas they were going to serve.104

MAP, the multiyear prototype for the 24/7 program, was created after a stakeholder assessment and community engagement session and operated without city funding.105 In 2015, the 24/7 program was created after input from 25 community stakeholders at two separate sessions, and 17 agencies were involved in the development of the new plan.106 Edmonton also does 90-day pilots to test potential changes to the program.107 In 2015, the Edmonton City Council asked REACH about options for expansion and REACH noted that “it would not be a simple linear expansion with identical resource requirements or results for” each neighborhood.108


CAHOOTS “costs on average $71 an hour.”109 REACH estimates that for “every

$1 invested in the 24/7 Crisis Diversion initiative, there is a social return on investment (SROI) of $1.91 in the form of savings in health care, policing, and legal costs.110 Costs were reduced for ambulance transport, police, and emergency room services.111 For many clients that these programs serve, the cost of an emergency room visit would otherwise fall on the taxpayer, a cost estimated at $1,010 per visit in 2018 by the Federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.112 CRU’s $497,000 annual budget covers supplies and salaries for six behavior health specialists, working in three two-person teams from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.113

Travis County (the county encompassing Austin) contributed $1 million to expand MCOT into EMCOT.114 CRU, with its first annual budget of $497,000, estimated $110,100 in startup costs.115 The original plan for MAP, the predecessor to 24/7, estimated start-up costs of $892,000 for an annual budget of $2,037,530.116

Wages for the programs are: CAHOOTS:

$18 an hour,117 EMCOT: $150,000 annually for clinicians,118 CRU: $50,992.00 to

$63,745.50 annually,119 and 24/7: $20.63 to 24.27 an hour (Canadian dollars).120

Appendix A is a table with each city’s police department and crisis response program budgets, response information for both, as well as estimated savings of the crisis response program.

Police Opinions

All of the police departments viewed their crisis-response programs positively; they generally recognize that the workers are better suited to handle certain call types and that when they do it frees up police to work on other matters.121 However, there is generally a period after programs first begin when officers are hesitant to fully defer to it, but do so after seeing the program operate effectively.122 In Austin, where the program doesn’t operate 24/7, the EMCOT program manager says law enforcement frequently asks when they will have overnight

staffing.123 EMCOT provides training to the police department in an attempt to form stronger bonds between crisis workers and officers.124

Lack of Adequate Funding

Every program (other than Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit, which is in its second year of operation) outgrew the program’s demand at least once.125 Cities tend to expand programs when they are presented with data about cost savings and hear from community members about the effectiveness of the programs.

Considerations for an Albany Crisis-Response Program

Choosing a Host Organization/Agency

Except for Olympia, each crisis-response program built upon or expanded a preexisting initiative. The programs were administered by nonprofit organizations, either directly or through a subcontract.

Subcontracting may show that the program is “collaborative but separate” from law enforcement, as well as allow for funding streams in addition to those available to municipalities or counties. However, public officials will have less control over the program. When looking for the right organization to administer the program, local governments should look for organizations with (i) a longstanding presence in the community, (ii) a history of delivering similar services, (iii) an ability to track performance and measure success, and

  • the ability to store client data safely and follow other statutes and regulations.

CAHOOTS is administered by White Bird Clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Center.126 Albany has one Federally Qualified Health Center, the Whitney M. Young Junior Health Center,127 which currently operates “Whitney on Wheels,” a mobile van unit that provides preventative care such as physicals, chronic-disease management, health and nutritional education, lab tests and screenings, and vaccinations at various partner locations.128 However, for some of the locations, the client must be a member of the partner organization, and the services are only available to clients who are willing to establish Whitney Young Health as their primary care provider.129

EMCOT is administered as part of Texas’ DSRIP (Medicaid redesign) process by Integral Care, one of the members of an Austin DSRIP network.130 In Albany, the Better Health for Northeast New York PPS (Better Health) is the local DSRIP network.131 One of Better Health’s eleven initiatives includes funding crisis stabilization services.132 Within the Better Health network, there are three mobile crisis response programs: the Albany County Department of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Team, the Capital District Psychiatric Center’s Crisis Unit, and the Parsons Center’s Capital Region Child and Adolescent Mobile Team.133

Point of Access, Dispatch, Integration with Emergency Response and Service Providers

Crisis-response workers can be dispatched:

  • (i)   directly by 911, (ii) through a separate number, (iii) directly by first responders, or

(iv) some combination of the above. Based

on the experience of the other programs, having all of the above as points of access would help a program be more successful, with 911 access being the most crucial.134 CAHOOTS workers have found it extremely beneficial to share radios with the police.135 It allows officers to call for crisis-response workers once they’ve assessed a situation, and workers can ‘preempt’ police response when appropriate.136

All the programs can refer or transport clients to other social-service providers, some after not being originally able to do so.137 This allows for direct access to long- term and appropriate care. All programs have a process in place for frequent users of their program in order to provide them more comprehensive services, or to refer them to a different provider for a higher level of care.138

Potential Funding Sources

  • The bill would provide a 95% match in Federal Medicaid funds to states to provide “community- based mobile crisis services,” with additional funding for program planning.140
  • ·         Request the state to provide funding
    • Could be similar to California’s C.R.I.S.E.S. (Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems) bill, passed in July 2020.141
    • Or, like Oregon’s Addiction and Mental Health Crisis Services grant, which allowed CAHOOTS to expand services to Springfield142
  • ·         NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Legislative Member Item
  • ·         Private fundraising (if the program is hosted by a nonprofit organization)143
  • ·         Pay for Success Contracts (Social Impact Bonds)144

Steps to Create a Crisis Response Program

  1. 1.  Survey Local Needs
  2. ·         Convene Organizational Stakeholders
    1. Appendix G is a list of potential local stakeholders
  3. Survey people from target populations
    1. o    Include them in design process
  4. Analyze call data145 to see:
    1. o    what call types the crisis response program may respond to,
    1. the frequency of those call types,
    1. locations where calls most often originate from (by police beat, census tract, etc.), and
    1. what times of day those calls are most common.

  • 2.   Decide on Program Operations, Structure, and Funding
  • Solicit feedback from community and stakeholders on design
  • Decide on metrics to monitor program and measure success
  • Pursue various funding streams
  • 3.   Reallocate Police Funding Towards Program

Here is a detailed Austin City Council hearing about the costs of the then-proposed EMCOT program. Appendix D is a table of police department spending and outcomes for Albany and other municipalities in New York.

  • 4.   Issue Request for Proposals (If Subcontracting)

The Request for Proposals should incorporate the takeaways from the first two steps. A copy of Olympia’s Request for Proposals can be found here, which includes requirements for workers. Job descriptions for the programs can be found at the following links: CAHOOTS Medics, and Crisis Intervention Workers; CRU; EMCOT, 24/7.

  • 5.   Train 911 Call-Takers and First Responders on the Role and Functions of the Crisis- Response Program

All 911 call-takers should be trained to screen for calls that the program will be able to respond to. In Austin, 911 operators are trained to ask whether the caller needs police, fire, or mental health services.146 A copy of the “911 Dispatch Call-Taking Manual” for CAHOOTS response can be found in section VIII of the report here.

Police have policies and procedures on how to interact, and in some cases defer to, the crisis response programs in their cities.147

  • 6.  Start Pilot, Scale Up, Make Changes

Because other programs have suffered due to lapses in funding, local governments should be ready to authorize mid-year funding increases. This also gives governments additional oversight of nonprofit subcontractors. The program should be collecting enough data on an ongoing basis to analyze, and if necessary, modify its operations.


Currently, local governments have a unique opportunity to reimagine public safety and health, and potentially realize significant savings in doing so. These savings can be reallocated to address root causes of crime and poverty, reducing the needs for services over time. As shown, there is not one way to administer a crisis-response program.148 However, constants among these programs examined can inform local governments in their own efforts to start similar initiatives.

Takeaways from these programs are to (i) include stakeholders in the program design process, (ii) aim to build trust within the police department and community, (iii) have a designated place within the 911 and emergency response processes, (iv) have adequate funding with access to mid-year

increases if necessary, (v) have a capable host organization/agency and be appropriately administratively housed, (vi) properly train employees, 911 call-takers, and other first responders, (vii) use past and current call data to inform operations, and

  • have the ability to transfer or refer clients to other service providers.

Appendix A: Comparison of Police and Crisis Response Budgets, and Estimated Savings

Data is for 2019, unless indicated otherwise

 Police BudgetCost Per Response by PoliceAlternative First Responder Program BudgetCost Per ResponseEstimated Annual Savings
Eugene – CAHOOTS149$90,000,000$486.74*$2,100,000$87.50$22,500,000
Austin – EMCOT/MCOT150$434,475,745$736.40$1,800,000**$401.79** 
Edmonton – 24/7 Crisis Diversion151$451,725,000$2,573.24$1,875,000$134.36$3,581,250
Olympia – Crisis Response Unit152$18,353,516*$362.75*$663,888$158.07 



Appendix B: Edmonton’s 24/7 Crisis Diversion Program Response and Cost Data

YearTotal ResponsesTotal Cost
2015~3,800153$ 1,116,176154 ($1,000,000 from city)155
201913,955 crisis calls46,995 “outreach engagements”160$1,875,000161

Appendix C: Response and Diversion Data for Eugene’s CAHOOTS Program

YearResponses% of 911Cost and OperationsStaff and Operations
2010  $288,0001621 van: 1pm-1am16315 staff164
2011~10 to 16 $566,0002 vans: 1pm-1am;
165calls a day166 3pm-3am
2012  $566,000 
2013~25 to 40 calls a day167 $566,000 
20149,662168 $566,000 
2015 $1.316 million (additional30–12 staff in Spring-
169~11,500170$750,000 state grant to Lanefield, 18 in Eugene172
  County, about $318k goes to3 vans, 1 in
  Springfield [pop. 62,979])Springfield, 2 in
201716,320 in Eugene~17% of all calls in Eugene175Eugene increased spending by $225,000 annually ($1.541 million total)176Expanded to 24-hour everyday service177
201823,000~20% ofTotal budget was ~ $1.63 vans184
 total,178calls inmillion181“more than 40” total
 17,440 inEugene andEugene: increase tostaff185
  180•  Springfield spends 
   $23,416 (rest is grant- 
201924,000~20% ofSpringfield: $450k-500k 
 total186all calls intotal for 11.5 hours of daily
  Eugene andservice,188 $27,394 from
  187•  Eugene: still $900,000
2020  $2.1 million total budget190State grant funding ended,Eugene added another van and 11 additional hours of coverage to
   Springfield increased its proportion to $238,274 with the county matching 3-to-1 (overall spending for Springfield increased by about 1.5 times)191support its two other vans during peak service hours.192

Appendix D: Police Spending and Outcomes for Several Cities in New York

CityPopulation# officersOfficer Rate/100 0# Response sResponse Rate/100 0Budget% of Total BudgetCost Per Call
Albany96,4603003.11104,0211078.38$54.3 M29.92$521.69
Schenectady65,2731931541942.36~ 130,0001951991.64$19.7 M19622.75$151.77
New Rochelle78,5571971591982.0248,335199615.29$26.9 M20012.69$556.28
Clarkstown20186,3272021562031.8154,458204630.83$33.1 M20522.43$607.20
Greenburgh90,9892061152071.26Not availNot Avail$20.5 M20816.76Not Avail
Greece95,4992091001.05Not availNot Avail$17.1 M21030.10Not Avail
Amherst126,0822111542121.22Not AvailNot Avail$35.5 M21326.10Not Avail
Ramapo137,4062141202150.87Not AvailNot Avail$43.1 M21635.07Not Avail
Syracuse142,327217438218 / 4672193.08 / 3.28140,000220983.65$49.0 M22121.23$349.72

Appendix E: CAHOOTS Most Common Call Factors222

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Appendix F: Diagram of CAHOOTS Dispatch Process223

A close up of a piece of paper  Description automatically generated

Appendix G: List of Potential Albany Stakeholders

Crisis Response Programs

911 and First Responders

Housing Service Providers

Mental Health Service Providers and Advocacy Organizations

i.      Provides input to the Department of Mental Health and its Director; helps to create the annual local services plan, outlining Albany mental health services.

  • Albany County Patient Services Coordinating Committee

i.      Albany County Department of Mental Health and Department of Social Services coordinate services “for people identified as frequent users of expensive crisis services across different public agencies,”224 with “196 individuals served since program inception (2005) with total cost savings of

$2,658,476” by late 2020.”225

Other Health and Service Providers

Government Officials

Additional Groups or Types of Individuals to Get Input From


* Matt DeLaus is in his second year of dual studies for the J.D./M.P.A. program at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Policy. He is an Albany Law School Government Law Center Fellow and intern, a subeditor for the Albany Government Law Review, and a recipient of both an Albany

Law School President’s Scholarship and The Arthur F. Mathews ’62 Endowed Memorial Scholarship. He cannot fully express his gratitude to Ruchi Patel and Professor Ava Ayers for their support in this work.

1 at 2.

2 In a June interview, Albany Chief of Police Eric Hawkins said “[f]undamentally I don’t have a problem with the basic premise to defund the police, and that is police officers should be doing police work and not social work. Police officers shouldn’t be the point of contact for individuals with mental health issues, substance abuse issues, or unhealthy family structural issues.” community.

3 See, infra, Diversion from Higher Level of Care/Police Response;” Appendix B (table of Edmonton’s program responses); Appendix C (table of Eugene, Oregon program response).

4 Cities with non-police crisis response programs in operation less than a year include Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado. See what-means-black-lives-matter/3218862001/. Oakland, California, decided to fund a crisis response program, but it is not yet in operation. See coming-to-oakland-to-help-with-non-violent-911-calls. Local governments that have decided to fund a crisis response program since George Floyd’s killing include Los Angeles, California (; Miami-Dade County, Florida ( 201239_Analysis.pdf;; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ( detail.aspx?id=116033); Rochester, New York ( live-mayor-warren-to-announce-crisis-intervention-program/); Salt Lake City, Utah; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Hartford, Connecticut; Durham, North Carolina ( content/uploads/2020/08/PoliceReformAcrossUS508.pdf at 2-4); and San Francisco, California ( matter/3218862001/). Many others are exploring the possibility. See, e.g., content/uploads/2020/08/PoliceReformAcrossUS508.pdf.

5 CAHOOTS: hours-with-eugenes-mobile-crisis-intervention-team; EMCOT:

?id=343511 (draft agreement between Integral Care and the City of Austin and its police department);

CRU: risis%20Response%20Team%20RFP_2018.pdf?la=en (Olympia’s request for proposals); and 24/7:

city_government/documents/2016_-_2018_OPERATING_BUDGET.pdf (annual spending of $1 million per year on 24/7 program).

6 Since George Floyd was killed, CAHOOTS has gotten “over 150” requests for information from different cities.

7 See with-reimagining-public-safety.

8 at 7 (presentation by the White Bird Clinic about CAHOOTS to the Oregon state legislature).

9 Texas enabled the creation of Local Behavioral Health Authorities “to provide mental health and chemical dependency services.” Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 533.0356(a) (West).

10 See (information about Integral Care); (information about Texas’ Local Behavioral Health Authorities).

11 See at 60.

12 See do/269-b8504edf-2b69-4d35-aae9-32052bddcaeb.

13 Albany does not have a health-related special district. See government/data/local-government-entities (New York State Comptroller’s list of local government entities). See also N.Y. Pub. Health Law §§ 390-99 (Unconsolidated Health Districts).

14 See (agreement about Community Health Paramedics program between Travis County Healthcare District and City of Austin).

15 See agencies;; https:/


16 See,

at 185.

17 See

_Overview_2014.pdf at 466 (“Founded in June 2010, REACH is membership driven, led by a Board of Directors with more than 200 members, encompassing 83 organizations and more than 120 citizens.”); See generally Lynda Frost & Susan Stone, Community-Based Collaboration: A Philanthropic Model for Positive Social Change, 1 THE FOUND. REV. 55-68 (2009) (describing benefits of a coordinating organization to guide social impact efforts). See also at 197 (“24/7 is aligned with HUoS, Homeless on Public Land, Capital City Clean Up Needle Collection, YEG Ambassadors, and City Centre Paramedic Response Unit, amongst others.”); the-homeless/ (24/7 works with the city during cold and heat emergencies).

18 See; See also

https://www. (detailing job purpose and responsibilities from Boyle Street Community Services in hiring program workers for 24/7 Crisis Diversion program).

19 See generally gain-traction/. See also content/uploads/2018/04/IntegralCare2017AnnualReport.pdf at 10 (EMCOT works with the Texas Department of Public Safety for responses at the state capitol building).

20 See (as of 2019, the Albany Police Department was “continuing the process of having all [their] patrol officers trained in a 40-hour block of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.”); see also Michael S. Rogers, et al., Effectiveness of Police Crisis intervention Training Programs, 47 J. Am. Acad. Psych. Law 414-421, 414 (2019),

414.full.pdf (“Studies generally support that CIT has beneficial officer-level outcomes, such as officer satisfaction and self-perception of a reduction in use of force. CIT also likely leads to prebooking [or post- arrest] diversion from jails to psychiatric facilities. There is little evidence in the peer-reviewed literature, however, that shows CIT’s benefits on objective measures of arrests, officer injury, citizen injury, or use of force.”).

21 See at 3, 8-10 (the Albany County Department of Mental Health 2020 local services plan found that “the level of need” for crisis services “is outweighing the available resources, time and expertise needed.”).

22 at


23 See, e.g., Health_Related_Incidents September_2018.pdf at 13 (“[a]ccording to APD and Integral Care, EMCOT is useful for mental health calls where an officer’s presence is no longer required or where the officer’s presence may be detrimental to the situation. These incidents are low-risk from a safety perspective, but may be complex from a diagnostic perspective.”).

24 See do/269-b8504edf-2b69-4d35-aae9-32052bddcaeb.

25 CAHOOTS: at 7 (describing various CAHOOTS services). EMCOT: “Services include mental health support for up to 90 days and care plans to help keep people safe. Clients are also connected to other Integral Care programs and local resources for ongoing care and recovery support.” crisis-outreach-team-mcot/. 24/7: In 2019, Edmonton City Council approved funding “to enhance warm hand-offs for people and referrals of individuals with complex needs to multi-agency services. This pilot involved ethnographic research, which is helping us better understand who the clients are and what specific barriers they face so gaps in services can be directly addressed.” content/uploads/2020/06/2019_REACH_Annual_Report_Single

.pdf. See also at 197. CRU:

26 CAHOOTS: Workers provide training as part of its response to crisis events, as well as upon request. CAHOOTS is able to train individuals in skills to help them manage crises. See Staff also trains the police department for their forty-hour Crisis Intervention Team training. See 3_Crisis_Assistance_Helping_Out_on_the_Streets_CAHOOTS_presentation.pdf at 5. EMCOT has “provided training for 1,500 law enforcement officers, EMS, and school resource officers.”


27 See e.g., at 7.

28 See model.

29 See

30 See, e.g., hippies-became-national-model; oregons-30-year-experiment-with-reimagining-public-safety.

31 See the “Crisis Response Host Organizations” section.

32 See note 24.

33 EMCOT and Community Health Paramedics collaborate to assist the most frequent users of their services. See do/269-b8504edf-2b69-4d35-aae9-32052bddcaeb. See also ems-needs-more-ambulances/269-d486a9ee-9f17-4ebf-8f95-f888cfc9c698 (describing services provided by Community Health Paramedics).

34 See City of Olympia, Crisis Response & Peer Navigators, department/public-safety-levy.aspx.


36 reimagining-public-safety.

37 See, at 20:14–21:00.

38 See e.g., CRU: Olympia’s local buprenorphine clinic called CRU for a person experiencing issues with the detox process, and said afterwards “CRU quickly established rapport and defused the situation.” at 12.

39 REACH conducted a marketing campaign encouraging callers to call 211 instead of 911 for people in crisis. See https:// In 2018, 72% of the program’s referrals came from 211. See REACH Edmonton, 2018 Annual Report, That was up from 36% in 2016. See

annualreport_impact2017_web_m at 4.

40 See CAHOOTS: (“For safety reasons, CAHOOTS does not respond directly to calls from members of the public.”). EMCOT:


41 See (“CRU . . . will respond to certain 911 calls.”).

42 See (the standalone MCOT phone line housed in Integral Care). See also document.cfm?id=302634.

43 See

44 ( “. . . CAHOOTS is considering creating a separate emergency number for people to use if they’re uncomfortable calling 911”).

45 See note 38.

46 See Bailey Douglas Gray, Breaking the Cycle: Evidence-Based Diversion for Homeless Individuals with Mental Illness, University of Austin Master’s Thesis at 64–65 (Aug. 2019),

handle/2152/78603/GRAY-MASTERSREPORT-2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (“This service is available across Travis County which means EMCOT may be requested by EMS, the Travis County Sheriff’s

Office, Lakeway Police, the Department of Public Safety, and Travis County Sheriff’s Office administrators at the Travis County Correctional Complex and Central Booking.”) [hereinafter Gray].

47 See CAHOOTS: at 1 (“Dispatchers are trained to recognize non-violent situations with a behavioral health component, and route those calls to CAHOOTS.”); 911-portland-could-soon-send-street-response-teams-instead-of-police/283-a94bb69e-5cf4-4f75-bbc8- 7941370c04f7 (“Operators are trained to ask questions aimed at deciding whether a sending an officer is truly necessary.”). EMCOT: Starting recently, “[a]s long as there’s no weapon present and no sense of ‘imminent death or harm to self or others,’ . . . 911 callers can be transferred from the Austin police to the crisis team. EMCOT is automatically dispatched to” most mental health calls.

48 CAHOOTS: One worker said “we can hop on the radio and say like, ‘Hey, it doesn’t sound like there’s a crime happening, so we’ll spin around the block and we’ll go check in … and let you know if any patrol is needed for that.’ We’re able to respond to calls that come into dispatch on 911 . . . We can’t get those calls if we’re not plugged into that system the same way.” 07-06/eugene-oregons-30-year-experiment-with-reimagining-public-safety. One officer recalled how officers felt about CAHOOTS when the program began, which was generally “[w]e’ve got these long-haired hippie guys driving around in a van . . . They’re on our police radios. Something’s not right.”

49 There is a similar program in Broome County, New York, There, 911 calls about someone experiencing a mental health crisis are transferred directly from 911 call-takers to trained mental health counselors. If the situation escalates, the call is transferred back to 911 call-takers to dispatch law enforcement. See recordingservice/sites/meetny/recording/014f7ea5ac10478d9eddd3eefe0c123d (presentation from the CIT coordinator for Broome County about the program); content/uploads/2019/10/Broome-County-911-Diversion.pptx (slides from that presentation).

50 “EMS will soon also employ a tool called Telehealth” and “hire two full-time and one part-time clinician who will be able to answer video calls from paramedics or crisis intervention officers.”

austin/city-of-austin-budget-makes-effort-to-focus-on-mental-health-improvements/; “EMCOT team members will be stationed at the 911 Call Center, where mental health calls will be transferred by 911 call takers to EMCOT.” See also

/edims/document.cfm?id=326169 at 27 (clinicians can be first responders for calls with little to no danger).

51 See responsibilities-in-eugene-oregon.

52 See

53 See responsibilities-in-eugene-oregon.

54 See; see also; Gray, note 47 at 64-65.

55 See emergencies/.

56 See mental-health-out-of-jail-could-lose-funding/269-581536576.

57 See (7,214 individuals

since 2013); gain-traction/ (dispatched 3,182 times).

58 traction/.

59 See 8f95-f888cfc9c698.

60 Gray, note 47 at 64.

61 See

62 See at 28-29.

63 See Back_REV.pdf.

64 The CAHOOTS administrator said the following:

“I think one of the primary things is the medic and crisis worker combination is what has allowed us to make such significant impacts in our community. By recognizing that behavioral health has a role in physical health, and physical health has a role in behavioral health, you’re able to really kind of treat the whole patient. And there are a lot of folks out there where maybe they don’t have the upbringing or the background to be able to articulate when they’re not feeling well emotionally, but they will reach out to say, “My stomach hurts” – and so [you’re] having that medic become this way for folks to [really] open up about what they’re experiencing emotionally.” reimagining-public-safety.

65 CAHOOTS: The City of Eugene provides funds to the program, “covering its staff and vans.” eugenes-mobile-crisis-intervention-team. CRU: Owned by the city. See

article230718039.html. 24/7: Vans are owned by REACH, with one donated by local businesses. See CHP workers use EMS ambulances which they return at the end of their shifts. See Community-Health-Paramedics.pdf at 17.

66 Gray, note 47 at 64.

67 See generally paramedic-do/269-b8504edf-2b69-4d35-aae9-32052bddcaeb (team specialists “work with seniors” and

with “people who are incarcerated”); health-counselors-not-cops-gain-traction/ (some CHP workers specialize in homelessness).


69 See

70 See id.

71 See; starting_a_MCIP.pdf (starting a “Mobile Crisis Intervention Program”); storage/images/Miscellaneous/Community_Feedback_Forum_2019/3_Crisis_Assistance_Helping_Out_on_ the_Streets_CAHOOTS_presentation.pdf;

68512 (presentation to Oregon legislature).

72 See

73 Id.


75 See street-response-teams-instead-of-police/283-a94bb69e-5cf4-4f75-bbc8-7941370c04f7.


77 See


78 See

79—How-the-unlikely-pairing-of- cops-and-hippies-became-a-national-model-Register-Guard—Oct-20-2019.

80 Id.

81 See, e.g., enforcement-are-needed.

82 See mental-health-crisis/ (New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ report recommending ways to improve New York City’s mental health crisis response, looking at CAHOOTS).

83 See id. In the report, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said using these logs “is crucial in minimizing unproductive and potentially violent encounters.”

84 “24/7 Crisis Diversion partners Boyle Street Community Services and HOPE Mission agreed to use the 24/7 Edmonton App in 2016 with their front-line staff in the field to record their work and the nature of those encounters with vulnerable people.” REACH-Business-Plan_FINAL.pdf. In 2019, “[f]ront line 24/7 Crisis Diversion staff from partners BSCS & HOPE Mission inputted 13,955 non-crisis events into the 24/7 app. This information was shared amongst six teams to align their support to clients.” content/uploads/2020/05/2019-REACH-Business-Plan-Report-Back_REV.pdf at 28. “[T]he largest hurdle to clear was the issue of privacy protection. The involvement of the” Canadian government office of privacy oversight “was vital to getting the app from concept to reality.” https:/

/ at 591.

REACH “[c]ompleted a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.”


85 at 24:25.

86 See id.

87 See (“More than 60% of our clients are homeless, and 30% live with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI).”).

88 See (“The department works hand-in-hand with CAHOOTS on a regular basis, recognizing that police officers are not the appropriate resource to respond to every situation.”).

89 See

90 See at 10.

91 See police-service-reform-including-11m-budget-cut-over-two-years.

92 See traction/.

93 See Jack Moran, “Second ‘Intervention’ Van Funded, THE REGISTER GUARD (Mar. 4, 2011) (in 2011, contract “doubled” to $566,000) (on file with author).

94 See at 1.

95 See agencies.

96 See Gray, note 47 at 64–65.

97 See id.; at 2 (“EMCOT was established through Integral Care’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments (DSRIP) program through the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver”).

98 See generally (presentation and panel discussion about New York’s DSRIP program).

99 See Gray, note 47 at 64–65.

100 “EMCOT began integrating their clinicians with APD 911 Call Center on December 16, 2019, to facilitate mental health crisis calls and divert from unnecessary police response.”


101 See Gray, note 47 at 64–65.

102 See

103 See 4ebf-8f95-f888cfc9c698.

104 See

105 See at 8.

106 See at 4.


.pdf at 640.

108 18%20Operating%20Budget%20Council

%20Questions.pdf at 19.

109 been-redefining-public-safety-2020-06-11.


.pdf at 641.

111 See at 5.

112 See at C- 20.

113 See

114 See at 49.

115 See

116 See at 14.

117 See

118 See at 47 (“$450,000 for three additional licensed EMCOT clinicians.”); at 45 (“$300,000 [c]osts include salary, fringe benefits, and supplies for two licensed Call Center Clinicians.”).

119 See washington-rrBVxD.

120 See

121 See e.g., CAHOOTS: An officer who began her career after CAHOOTS was created said “I actually have never worked in an environment without CAHOOTS, and I don’t know how it would be possible to do what we do as successfully as we do without them.” expand-other-cities-take-note-its-intervention-model One officer, who declined to give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media, said CAHOOTS is “able to respond to a lot of calls we [the police] maybe shouldn’t respond to,” and that he would ”strongly recommend” a crisis response program. eugenes-mobile-crisis-intervention-team. The Eugene chief of police calls the program a “symbiotic relationship.” trnd/index.html. The chief also testified before the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform that the program is about “matching the response with what is needed in the community,” and that “all of North America is calling us.”

28302 at 17:00–24:00.

122 One of the CAHOOTS co-founders said at first, they “sort of had to prove [themselves] . . . It took maybe a year or two for the police and the wider community to get the idea of what CAHOOTS was and how they could use us.”

pairing-of-cops-and-hippies-became-national-model. However, the current CAHOOTS administrator said “[a]t this point, we’ve patiently waited out an entire generation of police officers . . . It’s been that slow of a process.”

cahoots-replace-police-mental-health-trnd/index.html. CRU: The outreach services coordinator for the police department said for the program to build community trust, it had to prove it is “collaborative but separate” from law enforcement. At the same time, the program has to build trust with the police department, with one CRU worker saying “I think they’re hesitant to let us just show up . . . They’re worried about our safety. But the cops are becoming more aware. We’ve been out here for over a year and none of us have been assaulted.” Id. Other workers say that police are deferring more calls to them and trusting them in a wider range of circumstances. See id.

123 See Gray, note 47 at 64–65.

124 See

125 CAHOOTS: From 1989 to 2011, the program consisted of one van that did not operate 24/7; the budget has subsequently been increased year over year because of demand for CAHOOTS’ services. See Jack Moran, “Second ‘Intervention’ Van Funded, THE REGISTER GUARD (Mar. 4, 2011) (on file with author). “Based on call volume, demand for CAHOOTS services has increased by over 58% from 2014-2017.”

2020/07/02/18834819.php. EMCOT: The program was expanded from a previous program that was not part of the first response structure. See Gray, note 47. 24/7: In 2014-2015, the previous crisis diversion program only had enough funding to respond to 5% of the disorder calls they could have otherwise responded to. See 18%20Operating%20Budget%20Council

%20Questions.pdf at 19. “In 2018, the first seven months of delivery of 24/7 Crisis Diversion shows demand at an average of 26% above funded capacity.”

2019-2022_OPERATING_BUDGET.pdf at 639.

126 “The clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center.” content/uploads/2020/07

/CAHOOTS-Media.pdf. For information on Federally Qualified Health Centers, see

127 See CMS PUB 45-4 § 4231, 2015 WL 7936143 (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Manual, listing Federally Qualified Health Centers).

128 See;

129 See id.

130 See Gray, note 47 at 64–65.

131 See (although there is also the Alliance for Better Health, it is focused around Schenectady).

132 See at 53.

133 See at 9.

134 24/7 workers are dispatched through 211, and the manager of the 24/7 program says it is “crucial” that 211 is used so the “community feels empowered to respond.” In order to get

Edmontonians to use 211, REACH ran a marketing campaign. See https:// REACH is looking into the possibility of workers being dispatched directly by 911. On the other hand, CAHOOTS’ White Bird Clinic is looking at the possibility of the program having a standalone number, in addition to being dispatched directly by 911. See

news/cities/articles/2020-07-06/eugene-oregons-30-year-experiment-with-reimagining-public-safety. In Olympia, clients wish there was a number other than 911 they could call. See


135  See note 47.

136  See note 22.

137  See note 24.

138 Id.

139 See (Senate version); (House version).

140 See;


141 See

142 See note 52.

143 CAHOOTS: Examples of fundraisers the White Bird Clinic has hosted for CAHOOTS can be found at 24/7 “has leveraged over $1 million of in-kind contributions from the partner agencies.” content/uploads/2020/05/2020-REACH-Business-Plan_FINAL.pdf at 28.

144 These arrangements are relatively new in the world of social-service financing, and aim to “invest” in programs that address root causes of social issues, thereby reducing long-term spending on social services. See generally https:/ /; The parties consist of (i) a service provider, (ii) one or more third-party financiers, and (iii) a government backer. The parties sign an agreement outlining specific metrics to determine the program’s success, and the service provider uses the financier’s funds. If the program meets the metrics, the government then pays back the financier, with interest. If the program does not meet the metrics, the government does not pay. This arrangement (a) allocates risk for innovative social programs to be placed with third parties, (b) allows government to distribute their payments to the third-party over time for a successful program, instead of the all-at-once funding associated with implementing the program itself, and (c) a properly constructed agreement will produce data for the length of the arrangement, which can then be used when reallocating funding for other programs.

145 A report for the city of Austin analyzing their 911 call data in this manner can be found at at 4-25.

146 See

147 See e.g., CAHOOTS: See Eugene Police Department Policy 311, Non-Criminal Detoxification,; Eugene Police Department Policy 418, Mental Health Crisis Response,; Eugene Police Department Procedure 3.15, Death Notification, https://www.eugene-

148 The CAHOOTS administrator said that “CAHOOTS isn’t some cookie-cutter [program] that you can just pick up from Eugene and just kind of plunk down in Houston and expect it to work the same, just bigger.” https://www. public-safety.

149 These numbers were based on the most recently available data, See, https://www.eugene-

ViewFile/Item/5910 at 37 (137,087 calls for service, 31,685 officer-initiated); https://www.springfield- at 4 (47,817 calls for service in 2018); at 1, 5 (Eugene and Springfield department budgets are $90 million, CAHOOTS budget is $2.1 million, CAHOOTS responded to “over 24,000” calls for service, $8.5 million saved in public safety spending, $14 million saved in emergency medical systems costs).

150 See at 338 (police budget pays for officers to be “dispatched to over 330,000 . . . calls and work an additional 260,000 self-initiated calls . . .”); at 18–20 (detailing the EMCOT program for the 2017 fiscal year).

151 See (175,547 dispatches between Q4 2018-Q3 2019);

_2018_OPERATING_BUDGET.pdf at 596 (annual spending of $1 million per year on 24/7 program); https:/

/ at 560, 650 ($451,725,000 spent on police in 2019, an additional $875,000 for FY 2019 for 24/7 program); https:// at 2 (24/7 program responded to 13,955 events in 2019);, content/uploads/2020/05/2020-REACH-Business-Plan_FINAL.pdf at 2 ($1.91 Social Return on Investment).

152 See en at 127 (50,595 calls for service); 2019_Adopted_Budget_Book_web.pdf?la=en at 130 (2018 actual spending); transparency#/19567/accountType=expenses&embed=n&breakdown=14252966-76e1-4781-9193- 52ebee383049&currentYearAmount=cumulative&currentYearPeriod=years&graph=bar&legendSort=alp ha&proration=true&saved_view=null&selection=ADE101C7A384A6F4376651C99F19F8E7&projections= null&projectionType=null&highlighting=null&highlightingVariance=null&year=2019&selectedDataSetIn dex=null&fiscal_start=2019&fiscal_end=latest (2019 budget visualization, $773,888 spent on CRU);

/article230718039.html ($110,000 in startup costs); teams-roam-olympia-offering-help-services (700 responses in first two months).

153 at 4 (“209% increase in events from year 1 to year 2,” and year 2 total was 7,943).

154 at 7.

155 This funding began in 2012. See Approved_2012_Operating_Budget-Revised.pdf at 18.

156 at 2.

157 at 7.



160 at


161 2022_OPERATING_BUDGET.pdf at 49 (increased by $875,000).

162 Jack Moran, “Second ‘Intervention’ Van Funded, The Register Guard (Mar. 4, 2011) (in 2011, contract “doubled” to $566,000).

163 Id.

164 agencies.

165 Jack Moran, “Second ‘Intervention’ Van Funded, The Register Guard (Mar. 4, 2011) (in 2011, contract “doubled” to $566,000).


167 Id.

168—How-the-unlikely-pairing-of- cops-and-hippies-became-a-national-model-Register-Guard—Oct-20-2019.

169 week.html.csp.

170 at 3.

171 week.html.csp.

172 Id.

173 Id.

174 at 3.

175 agencies.


177 Id.

178—How-the-unlikely-pairing-of- cops-and-hippies-became-a-national-model-Register-Guard—Oct-20-2019.

179 Id.

180 police-2019-10-23/.


%20Responders.pdf at 7.

182 at 41.

183 at 210.

184 at 41.

185 agencies.


187 Id.

188 at 208.

189 at 210.

190 at 1.

191 at 204, 206.

192 at 3; https:/









199 Id.


201 Similar to Albany’s enlarged daytime downtown population, two shopping centers in Clarkstown “can double the population on any given weekend.”



204 Annual%20Report/2016-Annual-Report-Final.pdf.

205 Town%20Clerk/Budget/2020-Adopted-Budget.pdf.











216 f.


218 in-syracuse-for-5-years.html; syracuse-police-officers.

219 2020%20Adopted%20Budget.pdf.

220 dget


221 2020%20Adopted%20Budget.pdf.

222 at 3.

223 at 10.


Homeless-People-s-Access-to-Mainstream-Benefits-and-Services.PDF at 74, 213.

225 2020 Albany County Executive Budget, at 159.

Litigation Update: Counties Sue New York State Over Driver’s Licenses

by Kendra Sena*

Updated on September 25, 2019.


In June 2019, New York passed the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY), a law that would permit undocumented New Yorkers to apply for a state driver’s license.  The law is set to go into effect in December 2019.

In New York, most Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices are not operated by the state agency directly; instead, independently elected county clerks act as agents of the DMV, and are responsible for issuing driver’s licenses in most counties.[1]  But many county clerks have expressed their intent to defy the law and refuse to issue licenses to newly eligible immigrants.2  The consequences to the clerks of refusing to administer the law are potentially severe:  the New York State Constitution gives the governor the authority to remove an elected county clerk from office,3 though the power has not been invoked since 1932.4


A few weeks after the Green Light NY bill was signed into law, Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns filed a suit in federal court challenging the law as unconstitutional.5  Shortly thereafter, Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola filed a similar suit.6  In late August, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo filed a third suit.7  Although fourteen states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have laws to issue driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status,8 the lawsuits in New York mark the first time local officials have sued a state for issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The lawsuits claim that the Green Light NY law is preempted by federal law.  Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, when there is a conflict between a state law and a federal law, the federal law overrides the state law.  There are two types of preemption: express and implied.  Express preemption occurs when a federal law explicitly states that it supersedes state law.  Implied preemption occurs when, despite there being no explicit preemption, either:

  • state law and federal law are in conflict;
  • state law frustrates federal law; or
  • the federal law and regulation in an area is so comprehensive as to occupy the field.

The Monroe suit makes an additional claim that the Green Light NY law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. and New York State Constitutions.  The Equal Protection Clause guarantees that the government will not unfairly discriminate against classes of people when it passes or enforces laws.  To satisfy the Equal Protection Clause, a government classification must be supported by sufficient justification.  Depending on the type of classification, courts will apply one of three types of review:  strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, or rational basis review.  A law that fails to pass equal protection review is unconstitutional.

Each suit asks the court to rule that the Green Light NY law is unconstitutional and to stop its implementation.  The following sections explain the specific claims the counties make.

Claims and Analyses

Summary and Analysis:  Neither Congress nor the federal courts has settled on a single definition of “harboring.”  In the Second Circuit (the federal jurisdiction that includes New York), there are three elements that must be proved: (1) the noncitizen is unlawfully present in the U.S.; (2) the defendant knew or recklessly disregarded the status of the unlawfully present person; and (3) the defendant took actions that both helped an unlawfully present person to remain in the U.S. and prevented authorities from detecting the person’s presence.9

Most prosecution for harboring arises in the employment context, though mere employment of undocumented workers is not enough.  Courts have found employers guilty of harboring when they employ undocumented workers and take affirmative actions that shield the person from detection and make it easier for them to remain in the U.S.  For example, the Second Circuit found harboring when an employer induced a worker to falsify work authorization documents and to change her name when the employer was under investigation.[1]0  Litigation also arises in the housing context when, in addition to providing shelter, a person takes actions that help an undocumented person to remain in the U.S. and prevent authorities from detecting them.  The Second Circuit found a person liable for harboring when they maintained several houses to provide shelter for large numbers of undocumented people, provided transportation for them to and from work, and helped arrange sham marriages.[1][1]

The clerks argue that by providing driver’s licenses to people who are in the U.S. without authorization, the Green Light NY Law helps people who are unlawfully present in the U.S. to remain in the U.S.  And because the law bars the DMV from disclosing applicants’ records without a judicial warrant, the counties argue that the law shields unlawfully present people from detection.

In its motion to dismiss the Kearns complaint, the State responds that (1) the Green Light NY law forbids the counties from asking an applicant about their immigration status, and because citizens and lawfully present noncitizens are also eligible for standard (not for federal purposes) licenses under the Green Light NY law, the counties cannot assume that all applicants are undocumented; (2) the issuance of a driver’s license is not the kind of conduct prohibited by federal law; even if a driver’s license facilitates a noncitizen’s continued unlawful presence in the U.S., it is not done specifically to prevent immigration authorities from detecting the noncitizen; (3) the Green Light NY law protects certain documents from disclosure, but the federal law is meant to address harboring of people not documents; and (4) there is no credible threat of prosecution as no official in any other state that issues driver’s licenses to undocumented residents has ever been prosecuted under the harboring statute.

Summary and Analysis:  Federal law makes it unlawful to knowingly employ unauthorized workers.  To be authorized to work, a person must have a valid social security number or other work authorization issued by the federal government.  Many types of immigrants are eligible for work authorization, including asylees and refugees, beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), some student-visa holders, and many others.  Undocumented people are not generally eligible for work authorization.  Employers who violate the law may be subject to fines and criminal prosecution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has previously struck down government action that frustrates this law.  In Hoffman Plastics, the Supreme Court reversed an administrative award of back pay for unauthorized workers who had been unlawfully fired for union activity.[1]3  Back pay—wages that workers would have earned had they not been unlawfully terminated— is a remedy typically available to people with work authorization.  But the Court reasoned that without work authorization the workers were “unavailable” to work, and an award of back pay would be inconsistent with the federal laws that aim to curb the employment of unauthorized workers.[1]4  The Court relied on its analysis in a prior case that held that unauthorized workers were not eligible to be reinstated after they were wrongfully terminated. [1]5  In Arizona v. U.S. the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a state law that aimed to impose criminal sanctions on unauthorized workers for seeking employment—a consequence not imposed by federal law.  Reasoning that the federal law intentionally avoided imposing criminal penalties on unauthorized workers, choosing instead to sanction employers, the Court held that the “state law to the contrary is an obstacle to the regulatory system Congress chose.” [1]6

The counties claim that the Green Light NY law intentionally interferes with federal efforts to combat the employment of unauthorized workers.   In justifying the proposed law extending driving privileges to undocumented New Yorkers, bill sponsors in the Senate and Assembly noted that undocumented people need driver’s licenses in order to get to and from work.[1]7  But because undocumented people are not generally eligible for work authorization, the counties say the New York law encourages the unlawful employment of unauthorized workers and frustrates federal law.

In its motion to dismiss the Kearns complaint, the State responds that the federal law deliberately regulates the conduct of employers rather than the workers themselves or others who facilitate the unlawful employment.  Because the Green Light NY law does not regulate any employer conduct, permit employers to hire workers, or confer the license holders with work authorization, the law does not conflict with federal prohibitions on employment of unauthorized workers.

Summary and Analysis:  In 1996, Congress passed two laws under which state and local governments may not prohibit communication with the federal government about the immigration status of any person, 8 U.S.C. § 1644 and 8 U.S.C. § 1373.  Shortly after the laws were enacted, the City of New York challenged the validity of the laws under the anticommandeering principles of the Tenth Amendment, which prohibit the federal government from compelling states to adopt or enforce federal laws.  The city was defending its long-standing executive order that prohibited New York City officials from sharing immigration-status information with federal immigration authorities.  The Second Circuit ruled against the city, upholding the federal laws as constitutional.  The court reasoned that while the federal government could not compel state and local governments take certain actions to administer federal programs, it was constitutional for the federal government to prohibit states from taking certain actions that would frustrate federal programs.[1]8  In response, the city changed its order; rather than prohibit the sharing of immigration-status information, the new order (which is still in effect) prohibits the gathering of immigration-related information except in limited circumstances.[1]9

But a recent U.S. Supreme Court case has done away with the distinction drawn by the Second Circuit.  In Murphy v. NCAA, the Supreme Court held unconstitutional a federal statute that prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling.20  The Supreme Court reasoned that the distinction between an attempt to compel a state to act or to prohibit a state from acting is an empty one; any attempt to dictate what state legislatures may and may not do is a violation of the anticommandeering principles of the Tenth Amendment.2[1]  In light of this ruling, one federal court in New York has ruled that 8 U.S.C. § 1373 is unconstitutional.22  The Second Circuit has not ruled on provisions that prohibit the gathering of immigration-related information, nor has it considered whether 8 U.S.C. § 1644 and 8 U.S.C. § 1373 will survive in light of Murphy.

The Green Light NY law prohibits the disclosure of any records or information maintained by the state or local agent to immigration enforcement authorities absent a court order or judicial warrant.  The county claims that this information-sharing prohibition conflicts with the federal laws.

In its motion to dismiss the Kearns complaint,23 the State responds that (1) because federal law grants states the choice as to whether to report otherwise protected personal information to other state and federal agencies, the Green Light NY law is an exercise of the State’s discretion to decide when such permissive disclosures are appropriate; (2) federal law does not create any affirmative obligations to disclose immigration status information; and (3) because the Green Light NY law prohibits state and local agents from inquiring about the immigration status of an applicant for a non-federal-use driver’s license, government agents will not have any relevant immigration-status information to communicate at all.

Summary and Analysis:  Federal law makes it a crime for a noncitizen to vote “in any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing a candidate for federal office.”24  A noncitizen who votes in a federal election can be fined, imprisoned, or removed from the United States—even if they did not know they were ineligible to vote.25  The county argues that because the Green Light NY law permits people who are ineligible to vote in a federal election to obtain a driver’s license, and because a driver’s license is sufficient documentation to register to vote in New York, that the state law is preempted by the federal law.

The State has yet to respond to this argument, but may reply that (1) the issuance of a driver’s license is fairly attenuated to the act of voting; (2) all states routinely issue driver’s licenses to people who are ineligible to vote in federal elections, including people under the age of 18, lawful permanent residents (“Green Card” holders) and other noncitizens, and some people who have been convicted of a felony; and (3) the federal statute at issue criminalizes the actions of a noncitizen voter, not the actions of a state or local government that erroneously accepted a voter registration or permitted an ineligible voter to cast a vote in a federal election.

Summary and Analysis:  A state or local law is preempted when the federal law and regulation in an area is so comprehensive as to occupy the field.  Courts have found field preemption in areas where there is a clear and dominant interest in national uniformity, such as nuclear safety regulation,26 or where Congress has enacted a comprehensive statutory framework that demonstrates its intent to occupy a field, such as with “alien registration.”27  This means that even complementary state or local laws are preempted.  For example, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona statute that made it a crime under state law for an immigrant to fail to carry their “alien registration document” as required by federal law.  Although the state statute mirrored the federal statute in that it imposed a penalty for failing to carry the document, the Court reasoned that “[w]here Congress occupies an entire field, as it has in the field of alien registration, even complementary state regulation is impermissible.”28  But not all state or local laws that have to do with immigrants are field-preempted.  The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws that affect immigrants but do not interfere with the comprehensive scheme laid out by federal law.  For example, the Court found that a state law that revoked an employer’s business license for hiring unauthorized workers was not preempted by federal law.29

The counties argue that the federal government has exclusive authority over the field of immigration law, and that the Green Light NY law is therefore preempted.

In its motion to dismiss the Kearns complaint, the State responds that (1) only the federal government may bring a claim based on the supremacy clause in the immigration context; (2) the issuance of driver’s licenses is not within the field of immigration regulation exclusively governed by federal law; (3) the State has broad authority to govern matters of public safety, including issuing driver’s licenses, even if those laws have some effect on immigration; and (4) federal law recognizes that states are permitted to issue driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status.

Summary and Analysis:  The Equal Protection Clause guarantees that the government will not unfairly discriminate against classes of people when it passes or enforces laws.  The Equal Protection Clause is applicable when a government action unjustifiably burdens or benefits one group of people but not other similarly situated people.  That is not to say that the government may not make distinctions between classes of people; a government classification is lawful so long as it is supported by sufficient justification.  Depending on the type of classification, courts will apply one of three types of review:  strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, or rational basis review.

The most stringent type of review, strict scrutiny, will apply when the law in question relates to a fundamental right or a suspect classification.  Fundamental rights include the right to vote, the right to move freely between the states, and the right to marry.  Suspect classifications include race, national origin, religion, and alienage.  A law that limits a fundamental right or that involves a suspect classification must pass strict scrutiny; the law must further a “compelling governmental interest,” and must be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. When courts apply strict scrutiny, they almost always strike down the government action being challenged.  A court will use intermediate scrutiny to evaluate a law that discriminates by sex or gender.  To pass intermediate scrutiny, the law must be substantially related to an important governmental interest.  For most all other classifications, courts will use the lesser rational basis standard of review, under which the state need only show that the classification bears a rational connection to a legitimate state interest. Laws that are subject to rational basis review almost always survive challenge.

The county argues that the Green Light NY law violates the Equal Protection Clause because it treats undocumented immigrants better than it treats U.S. citizens and lawful residents.  Under the Green Light NY law, people with social security numbers are required to provide their social security number to apply for a driver’s license. All U.S. citizens have social security numbers, and so do some, but not all, noncitizens. Noncitizens without social security numbers may submit an affidavit stating that they have not been issued a social security number, and must also provide a valid foreign passport, consular identification document, or foreign driver’s license to be eligible for a standard (not for federal purposes) driver’s license.

The county argues that the Green Light NY law “requires less intrusive and less reliable proof of identity from” undocumented immigrants who don’t have social security numbers than from citizens and immigrants with social security numbers.  Because New York shares driver’s license data with state and federal agencies, the county claims that those who have submitted their social security numbers will have their identities shared while those without social security numbers will have their identities shielded.

The State has yet to reply to this argument, but may offer some variation on three replies.  First, the State may say that equal protection is irrelevant here because the classes (people with and without social security numbers) are not similarly situated. Under federal law, the state cannot issue the same kinds of driver’s licenses to people who have social security numbers and people who do not. People with different kinds of licenses are not similarly situated.  Second, the State may argue that equal protection is irrelevant because there is no differential treatment; all driver’s licenses and associated identifying information are a part of the same database that is shared with state and federal agencies. Finally, the State may say that even if equal protection does apply, the state satisfies the low burden of rational basis review; the heightened scrutiny required for alienage discrimination does not apply where a party alleges preferential treatment for immigrants.

Further Reading

The Government Law Center publishes explainers—short policy papers—designed to help policymakers and others understand the complex laws that apply to state and local governments’ choices about immigration policy.  Each explainer briefly reviews the law in a specific area, and provides links to further resources.  For more information on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, and other issues related to state and local governments and immigration law, see the Government Law Center’s explainer series, available at:


* Kendra Sena is the Senior Staff Attorney at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School.

[1] In 51 of the state’s 62 counties, the county clerk serves as an agent of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and is responsible for operating the Department of Motor Vehicles office and issuing driver’s licenses.  See N.Y.S. Vehicle and Traffic Law § 205.  Excepted are the clerks of the counties of Rockland, Albany, Westchester, Suffolk, Nassau, Onondaga, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, and New York.

2 Christina Goldbaum, “Rebellion by County Clerks Over N.Y. Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants,” The New York Times, June 21, 2019,

3 N.Y. Const. art. XIII, § 13 states, in part: “The governor may remove any elective sheriff, county clerk, district attorney or register within the term for which he or she shall have been elected; but before so doing the governor shall give to such officer a copy of the charges against him or her and an opportunity of being heard in his or her defense.”

4 The only governor to invoke the power to remove an independently elected official was Franklin D. Roosevelt who, in 1932, removed New York County Sheriff Thomas M. “Tin Box” Farley from office as part of a Tammany Hall scandal.  “Farley Is Removed; Unexplained Funds Sole Basis of Action; Roosevelt Rules Sheriff Failed to Meet High Standard Set for Public Officials,” The New York Times, Feb. 25, 1932,

5 Kearns v. Cuomo, et al., No. 19 cv 902 (W.D.N.Y. filed Jul. 8, 2019).

6 Merola v. Cuomo, et al., No. 19 cv 899 (N.D.N.Y. filed Jul. 24, 2019).

7 County of Monroe, et al., v. Cuomo, et al., No. 19 cv ___ (W.D.N.Y. filed Aug. 29, 2019).

8 National Immigration Law Center, “State Laws Providing Access to Driver’s Licenses or Cards, Regardless of Immigration Status,” (August 2019),

9 See U.S. v. Kim, 193 F.3d 567 (2d Cir. 1999) (holding that harboring “encompasses conduct tending substantially to facilitate an alien’s remaining in the U.S. illegally and to prevent government authorities from detecting [the immigrant’s] unlawful presence”) citing U.S. v. Lopez, 521 F.2d 437 (2d Cir. 1975), cert denied 423 U.S. 995 (1975)).

[1]0 Id.

[1][1] See U.S. v. Lopez, 521 F.2d 437 (2d Cir. 1975), cert denied 423 U.S. 995 (1975).

[1]2 The Kearns complaint refers to the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986, the parts of which referring to the employment of unauthorized workers are codified in 8 U.S.C. § 1324a.

[1]3 See Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002).

[1]4 Id.

[1]5 See Sure-Tan, Inc. v. NLRB, 467 U.S. 883 (1984).

[1]6 See Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 389 (2012).

[1]7 See A.B. 3675, 2019-20 Leg. Sess., Sponsor’s memorandum, (NY 2019), available at ; S.B. 1747B, 2019-20 Leg. Sess., Sponsor’s memorandum (NY 2019), available at

[1]8 See New York v. United States DOJ, 343 F. Supp. 3d 213 (S.D.N.Y. 2018).

[1]9 See N.Y.C., N.Y., Exec. Order No. 41, ss.1-2 (Sept. 17, 2003),

20 See Murphy v. NCAA, 138 S. Ct. 1461 (2018).

2[1] Id. at 1475.

22 See New York v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 343 F. Supp. 3d 213, 244 (S.D.N.Y. 2019).

23 Although the Kearns complaint does not reference these statutes, the State’s motion to dismiss addresses the issue.  See Motion to dismiss at n.9, Kearns v. Cuomo, et al. No. 19 cv 902 (W.D.N.Y. filed Jul. 8, 2019).

24 18 USC § 611(a).

25 See Fitzpatrick v. Sessions, No. 15-2204 & 16-1864 (7th Cir. 2017).

26 See Va. Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, 587 U.S. _ (2019).

27 See Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387 (2012).

28 Id.

29 See Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 563 U.S. 582, 587 (2011).

State Criminal Law and Immigration:  How State Criminal-Justice Systems Can Cause Deportations, or Limit Them

by Kendra Sena*                     

The Government Law Center’s explainers concisely map out the law that applies to important questions of public policy.

This explainer was updated on May 6, 2019.


While the federal government makes the ultimate decision whether to admit or deport a noncitizen, the states often play a crucial role.  Several provisions of federal immigration law that trigger deportation depend in large part on crimes that are defined, charged, and sentenced at the state level.  Even a conviction for a low-level crime for which a state imposes no jail time can result in serious immigration consequences—including deportation.

Some states are adopting policies to take account of the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.  This explainer will briefly review the intersection of state criminal law and federal immigration law.  It will then outline several ways in which states are exercising their authority over state criminal law and procedure to influence federal immigration enforcement.

I.  Background: Crimmigration

The intersection between immigration and criminal law is highly complex.  Although immigration proceedings are civil matters, some criminal convictions may make a noncitizen deportable or inadmissible under federal law.  This interplay between immigration law and criminal law is often referred to as “crimmigration.”[1]

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the federal law that governs immigration, includes a broad set of crimes for which a conviction may make a noncitizen—even a lawful, permanent resident—deportable or ineligible for certain immigration relief.  This includes both federal and state crimes, many of which are not defined in the INA.

Several provisions of the INA set out only a category of crimes for which a conviction will trigger immigration consequences.  For example, a noncitizen may be deported for having committed a “crime involving moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony.” Whether specific crimes count as crimes involving moral turpitude, or aggravated felonies, depends on a state’s definition of the crime and the potential sentence permitted under state law.  This means that the same criminal acts may trigger deportation if committed in one state, but not if committed in another state.

Recognizing the highly complex and technical laws involved, and the seriousness of deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, the United States Supreme Court’s 2010 case Padilla v. Kentucky held that defense attorneys are constitutionally obligated to advise their clients about whether their plea carries a risk of deportation.[2]  The Padilla decision injected immigration law directly into the practice of criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges alike.[3]  Failure to advise a noncitizen client about the immigration consequences of their plea is ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment for which a defendant may seek post-conviction relief.[4]

II. State efforts to limit immigration consequences of criminal convictions

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Padilla, many states have made changes to their criminal systems to take into account the immigration consequences of criminal convictions for noncitizen defendants.

Padilla counsel.  In 2011, the state of New York authorized funding for immigration-related legal support, training, and resources to assist indigent-defense and family-law attorneys in complying with the mandate of Padilla.[5]  The result was the nation’s first statewide network of immigration assistance centers to advise criminal and family court attorneys on immigration law.[6]  The six Regional Immigration Assistance Centers (RIAC) issue advisory letters that analyze the potential immigration consequences of a case disposition and offer possible dispositions that reduce the immigration impact on the noncitizen.[7]

Prosecutorial discretionSome prosecutors have changed the way that they charge low-level and nonviolent offenders to take into account the potential immigration consequences of a conviction.  In 2016, California enacted a statewide law mandating that prosecutors “consider the avoidance of adverse immigration consequences in the plea negotiation process” for all cases.[8]  Elsewhere, individual prosecutor’s offices have adopted similar practices.  In Baltimore, the state’s attorney instructed the office’s prosecutors to consider the “unintended collateral consequences that our decisions have on our immigrant population.”[9]  In Brooklyn, NY, and Philadelphia, PA, the district attorneys’ offices have hired immigration counsel to train prosecutors on how to minimize the risk of deportation for noncitizens charged with low-level and nonviolent offenses.[10]

Executive pardons.  In some instances, states have the power to remove immigration consequences associated with past convictions.  For most crimes, a state governor’s pardon has the effect of erasing a conviction for immigration purposes and protecting a noncitizen from deportation on account of the conviction.[11]  For some crimes—drug and firearm convictions, for example—a governor’s pardon may remove the automatic deportation trigger, giving the immigration judge the discretion to issue relief.

In 2000, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole made two key procedural changes to its pardon process in order to protect noncitizens at risk of deportation because of convictions for low-level state crimes.  First, the Board opened its pardon process to misdemeanors, and second, it waived the otherwise applicable eligibility waiting period.  In a 15-month period, the Board pardoned 138 legal permanent residents at risk of deportation—all of whom had either a U.S. citizen spouse or children and all but one of whom had been convicted of only a misdemeanor.[12]

State governors in New York and California have recently exercised their discretion in this space, commuting the sentences of people convicted of crimes that carry the potential for immigration consequences.[13]  In California, a new law requires the state parole board to consider an expedited review of pardon applications from people at risk of deportation.[14]

Reducing misdemeanor sentences.  A noncitizen can be subject to deportation for a single conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony when the potential sentence for the crime is a year or more.  The immigration law does not define a crime of moral turpitude, but courts have explained that it includes theft and fraud crimes—even misdemeanors like petit larceny or passing a bad check.  Even when a person doesn’t spend a single day in jail, conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude with the potential for a one-year sentence makes deportation automatic.  Similarly, a conviction for an aggravated felony, for immigration purposes, often includes misdemeanor crimes.  Possession of stolen property, forgery, or failure to appear in court—often misdemeanors under state law—render a noncitizen deportable when a sentence of a year or more is imposed.[15]

New York recently became the fifth[16] state to amend its criminal laws to reduce the maximum penalty for misdemeanors from 365 days to 364 days in order to remove those crimes from the class of convictions that trigger deportation and inadmissibility.[17]

Decriminalization.  States have broad authority to define classes of unlawful behavior.  Unlawful acts that are less than criminal—infractions or violations, for example—do not typically come along with the same constitutional guarantees (e.g., right to counsel) as for criminal activity.  For this reason, sanctions for noncriminal offenses will not usually constitute convictions for immigration purposes.[18]

Some states have moved to decriminalize certain unlawful behaviors so as not to subject noncitizens to detention and deportation based on these low-level violations.  In 2018, California passed a law decriminalizing street vending after a widely-publicized incident in which a woman who had been arrested for selling corn in a public park was held in immigration custody for 6 months.[19]  Under the new law, local governments are permitted to set up regulatory structures to regulate street vending; vendors who violate local regulations are subject to administrative penalty only.[20]

Notably, a state’s decision to decriminalize the possession, use, or sale of cannabis (marijuana) will not remove some immigration consequences associated with it.  The U.S. Department of Justice recently issued a policy alertto indicate that a noncitizen may be found to lack the “good moral character” necessary to become a U.S. citizen because of their involvement with cannabis, “even where such activity is not a criminal offense under state law.” [21]


The federal government has exclusive authority to determine which noncitizens it will permit to enter and remain in the country.  But immigration law relies heavily on the states to define crimes that trigger deportation of noncitizens.  Because the states enjoy exclusive authority over state criminal laws, states have the ability to influence federal immigration enforcement.    No state-law measure could take away the federal government’s power over the nation’s immigration laws and enforcement.  But some states are exercising their authority at the intersection of criminal and immigration law to exert some measure of control over the effect that states’ actions have on the immigration status of people who encounter their criminal-justice systems.


* Kendra Sena is the Senior Staff Attorney at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School.

[1] Professor Juliet Stumpf has been credited with coining the term “crimmigration” in her article, The Crimmigration Crisis: Immigrants, Crime, and Sovereign Power, 56 Am. U. L. Rev. 367, 376 (2006).

[2] Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010).

[3] García Hernández, César Cuauhtémoc, Deconstructing Crimmigration, 52 U. C. Davis L. Rev. 197, 198 (2018).

[4] See Lee v. U. S., 582 U.S. ___ (2017) (holding that a defendant can show prejudice from their counsel’s deficient performance in plea proceedings by establishing that there is a reasonable probability that but for counsel’s errors, they would not have pled guilty).

[5] See N.Y.S. Office of Indigent Legal Services, Regional Immigration Assistance Centers, (last visited May 7, 2019).

[6] See Press Release, N.Y.S. Office of Indigent Legal Services, “ILS Awards Grants for Regional Immigration Assistance Centers,” (Jul. 6, 2015), available at:

[7] See e.g., Oneida County, Public Defender – Criminal Division, Regional Immigration Assistance Center-2, “What We Do,” (last visited May 7, 2019).

[8] Assemb. Bill 1343, 2015–2016 Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2015).

[9] Press Release, Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, “States Attorney Marilyn Mosby Instructs Her Office to Strongly Consider Prosecutorial Discretion for Cases Involving Immigrant Defendants, Witnesses, and Victims” (May 4, 2017), available at:

[10] See Press Release, Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, “Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces New Policy Regarding Handling of Cases against Non-Citizen Defendants,” (Apr. 24, 2017), available at:; Alicia Victoria Lozano, “Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Trains 300 Attorneys to Protect Immigrant Rights,” NBC Philadelphia, (Jan. 24, 2019),

[11] INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(vi).

[12] Elizabeth Rapaport, The Georgia Immigration Pardons: A Case Study in Mass Clemency, 13 Federal Sentencing Reporter 184 (2001).

[13] See, e.g., Melissa Gira Grant, “California Governor Jerry Brown is Fighting Trump with Pardons. Will Other Governors Follow Suit?” The Appeal, Nov. 29, 2018,; John Leland, “With a Fresh Swipe at Trump, Cuomo Pardons 22 Immigrants,” The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2018.

[14] Agnes Constante, “New California Pardon Law May Help Those Facing Deportation,” NBC News, Oct. 3, 2018,

[15] American Immigration Council, “Aggravated Felonies: An Overview,” (Dec. 2016),

[16] The other states are: California, Nevada, Utah, and Washington.

[17] Jason Stevenson & Marina Lowe, “Utah Passed a Law to Protect Noncitizens From Automatic Deportation,” ACLU, April 9, 2019,

[18] Leticia Saucedo, States of Desire: How Immigration Law Allows States to Attract Desired Immigrants, 52 U.C. Davis Law Review 471, 499 (2018).

[19] Kristina Bravo, “Gov. Brown Signs Bill Legalizing Street Vending,” KTLA Broadcasting (Sept. 17, 2018),

[20] Public Counsel Law Center, “Legislative Alert: SB 946 – Safe Sidewalk Vending Act,” (Dec. 2018),

[21] U.S. Dept. Homeland Sec., U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Policy Alert, “Controlled Substance-Related Activity and Good Moral Character Determinations,” April 19, 2019,  The amendment to the USCIS Policy Manual can be found in Volume 12: Citizenship and Naturalization, Part F, Good Moral Character, Chapter 5, Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period [12 USCIS-PM F.5].

NYS Enacts Help for Parents Facing Deportation

New state laws amend standby guardianship and general obligations law parental designation statutes

By Gerard Wallace, Esq.[1]

 Parents[2] who are at risk of deportation face difficult decisions regarding the care of their citizen minor children.  If they choose to leave children here in the United States – even temporarily – they must decide how to provide a non-parent with the legal authority for caregiving.[3]

New strategies for parents and children are needed because of the dire circumstances and widespread dragnet of persons at risk of deportations that are sweeping across the country. Federal enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), are at the center of media and advocate reports on the ramping up of searches, arrests, detentions, and deportations of undocumented residents.

In June of 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law two new provisions aimed to improve strategies for non-parental care of children by amending New York’s standby guardianship (Chapter Law 79) and parental designation (Chapter 80) laws. This memo will outline the legal and political landscape that has made these laws imminently necessary, as well as two procedures for designating parental authority to non-parents.

Who Is Facing Detention and Deportation?

Statistics from national surveys, administrative data and other sources of information regarding the number of persons who may face detention and deportation vary,[4] but estimates generally place the total population at about 11.1 million, or approximately 3 percent of the U.S. population.[5]

Detention is the practice of incarcerating immigrants while they await a determination of their immigration status or potential deportation. Once detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), bond is unlikely and deportation likely, because of a recent U. S. Supreme Court decision that permits indefinite detention. A detainee may now be held until either the application proceeding is completed or until removal proceedings have been completed, denying bond hearings to thousands of immigrant applicants and asylum seekers.[6]

In 2016, the United States government detained nearly 360,000 people in a sprawling system of over 200 immigration jails across the country.

In addition to millions of undocumented immigrants, persons who are potentially subject to deportation also include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and persons with Temporary Protective Status (TPS).

DACA allows individuals who were brought to the United States as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the U.S. A reported 793,026 people have received DACA initial approval, while 895,574 have received renewals.[7] These figures include 292,070 applications accepted and 273,000 approved in New York State.[8] Many DACA children are now adults who have children who were born in the United States. Plans to phase out DACA were initiated by the Trump Administration on September 5, 2017, allowing Congress six months to pass – a more permanent solution. [9]

The Trump administration has also said that it will terminate Temporary Protected Status for nearly 60,000 Haitians in July 2019, more than 262,000 Salvadorans in September 2019 and 57,000 Hondurans in January 2020.

Citizen Children Who Are Minors

Children who were born in the United States are citizens. They have birthright citizenship pursuant to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.

Among the millions facing deportation, there are many parents with children who are United States citizens because they were born here, but who have not reached adulthood. Almost six million citizen children under the age of 18 live with a parent or family member who is undocumented.[10]  Additionally, a recent report from the Center for Migration studies estimates that more than 273,000 U.S.-born children have a parent with TPS from these countries.[11]  The number of DACA dreamers with minor citizen children is not known.

Options for Care of Citizen Children

In New York, a variety of custodial arrangements can provide care for children. Most involve court proceedings: state care and custody (foster care) via Family Court Act Article Ten abuse and neglect proceedings, surrenders for adoption (N.Y. Soc. Serv. Law §383), voluntary placement agreements (N.Y. Soc. Serv. Law §384a), or destitute child status (N.Y. Fam Ct. Act 10-C). In addition to state care, there are also private court ordered arrangements: adoption (N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law. §112b, guardianship (N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act §1700) and N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act §661, legal custody (N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act §651). A few informal custody arrangements do not require court proceedings: parental designation (N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law §5 1551ff; and “persons in parental relationship” (N.Y. Educ. Law §3212; N.Y. Pub. Health Law §§2504, 2164).[12]

Court proceedings invariably will include scrutiny of the proposed non-parent caregiver and their household.  Investigations may involve criminal record checks, home studies, orders of protections records, domestic violence, sex offender, and child abuse registry checks, and caregiver residential histories.

For persons who may become caregivers of children whose parents are facing deportation, there are fears that such investigations may bring the unwelcome attention of federal immigration authorities.

Risk of ICE Identifying Undocumented Residents Because Of Court Proceedings

This memo does not attempt to describe how ICE may identify person involved in family court proceedings who are subject to deportation. However, it is important to provide some relevant information that illustrates the issues.

It is not uncommon for immigration authorities to obtain family court information by requiring individuals who are applying for immigration benefits or relief from removal to produce their family court records. Individuals are frequently compelled to produce records regardless of the privacy protections afforded by the New York Family Court Act and other state regulations. In other cases, immigration authorities discover family court information automatically through data-sharing agreements between state, local and federal agencies.[13]

Harmful immigration consequences can also be triggered when an Order of Protection is
issued by the Family Court and entered into the New York State Order of Protection Registry (“OP Registry”).[14]

An NYS Office of Court Administration Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court Memo: “Adverse Consequences to Family Court Dispositions”, examines in detail when family court proceedings may result in federal authorities identifying immigrants who may be subject to detention or deportation. The memo lays out the limited circumstances when information may reach federal authorities. But despite the apparent limitations, families are understandably suspicious and fearful that court proceedings could lead to arrests and detentions.

Standby Guardian and General Obligations Laws Provide “Springing” Powers for Provision of Care

At the end of the 2018 legislative session, New York’s Legislature passed two amendments that Governor Cuomo signed into law at a signing ceremony on June 24th in the Bronx. The two chapter laws amend statutes that provide for the designation of parental powers that may “spring up” upon the arrest, detention or deportation of a parent. The standby guardian written designation is valid for sixty days whereupon the named standby must file a petition for appointment (NY CLS SCPA § 1726(2)(d)(iv)). The parental designation (NYS General Obligations Law §§ 51551-55) does not require court appointment and thus may be of special importance when families wish to avoid the risks of unwanted attention from federal immigration officials.

Standby Guardianship Chapter Law 79 of the Laws of 2018

The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) provides that a standby guardian can be appointed (NY CLS SCPA § 1726(1)(a)). “Standby guardian” means (i) a person judicially appointed … as standby guardian of the person and/or property of an infant whose authority becomes effective upon the incapacity, administrative separation, or death of the infant’s parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or primary caretaker or upon the consent of the parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or primary caretaker; and (ii) a person designated … as standby guardian whose authority becomes effective upon the death, administrative separation, or incapacity of the infant’s parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or primary caretaker or upon the debilitation and consent of the parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or primary caretaker.

The Chapter Law[15] amends the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act to expand §1726, allowing designations for a “standby guardian” to include parents facing “administrative separation” i.e., detention or deportation, etc.

Administrative separation is defined as “A parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or primary caretaker’s (I) in connection with a federal immigration matter: arrest, detention, incarceration, removal and/or deportation; or (II) receipt of official communication by federal, state or local authorities regarding immigration enforcement which gives reasonable notice that care and supervision of the child by the parent, legal guardian, legal custodian, or primary caretaker will be interrupted or cannot be provided.”

Originally, this statute was enacted at the height of the AIDS crisis, to facilitate the immediate transfer of guardianship powers when a parent or a guardian can foresee their inability to care due to debilitating illness or death. In 2000, SCPA §1726 was amended to add a legal custodian or certain primary caretakers to designate or seek appoint of a standby guardians. Until June 27, 2018 the statute allowed a written designation of a standby guardian for their child in the event of their 1) incapacity, 2) debilitation and consent, or 3) death.  Designated standby guardians’ powers are valid upon the occurrence of the springing event, but only for sixty days, wherein the standby should seek to petition for guardianship. With the 2018 amendment, parents facing deportation can now complete the statutory designation form and know that if they are detained, their designated standby guardians can immediately care for children and can petition for appointment as their guardian.

Parental Designations Chapter Law 80 of the Laws of New York

The Chapter Law amends NYS General Obligations Law §§ 51551 and 1552 to extend the time period from six months to twelve months that a parent or guardian is permitted to name a caregiver as a person in parental relation, who has limited authority to make most decisions about schooling and medical care for a minor child or an incapacitated person.  Designation for periods beyond one month must be notarized and contain certain information. No court involvement is required for the designations, ensuring privacy for many parents who may be reluctant to bring attention to caregivers and their kin.  By extending the designation period to twelve months, the requirement of notarization becomes less onerous, particularly for parents residing outside the United States. Importantly, the authority may spring up upon a designated event or date.

The state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) has published a sample designation form. The form is available at the NYS Kinship Navigator and at OCFS web sites. See OCFS Form 4940 (06/2018).  The form’s section 4(d), pursuant to the statute, allows for the authority to spring up when a designated event happens.

The springing power is an especially useful tool for parents facing potential deportation or immigration detention because, just like the standby guardian springing power, it can be used to arrange care for children that springs up upon a stated condition, i.e. arrest, detention, etc.

In Chapter Law 79, the term “administrative separation” is defined as a suspension of care between parent and child caused by incarceration, removal and/or deportation, in connection with a federal immigration matter.  In drafting designations for parents facing detention/deportation, the springing power can borrow the language of the standby guardian Chapter Law regarding “administrative separation.”

The following language (copied from the standby guardianship amendment) can be inserted in section 4(d) of the designation form to allow a person in parental relationship to be designated in the event of a parent’s administrative separation:

  1. Any authority granted to the person in parental relationship pursuant to this form shall be valid (check appropriate box and initial):

___ d. commencing upon the date I become subject to an administrative separation such that care and supervision of the child(ren) will be interrupted or cannot be provided and continuing until administrative separation has ended or until the date of revocation, whichever occurs first.

Notarization in Other Countries

The standby guardianship designation does not need to be notarized but the parental designation must be notarized by a parent and by the designee for periods greater than thirty days. For parents who have left the country and need to notarize abroad, federal law states that notarizing officers at any United States Embassy or Consulate abroad can provide a service similar to the function of a notary public in the U.S. For information relating to notarial services with respect to specific countries, including office locations, consult the U.S. Department of State’s website.[16] While for periods greater than thirty days, the designee must also notarize, the designee notarization does not have to be concurrent with the parent’s (and designee notarizations could be performed in the United States).

The parent must personally appear at the embassy or consular office and bring the document with him. The office will establish their identity; establish that they understand the nature, language and consequences of the document to be notarized; and must be satisfied the act does not come within the purview of a regulatory basis for refusal. Then they will provide the notarization.

Most notarizing officers may also authenticate documents, which means that the consular seal is placed over the seal of a foreign authority whose seal and signature is on file with the American Embassy. The authentication merely attests to the seal and signature of the issuing foreign authority. Notary and authentication services may be performed for any person regardless of nationality so long as the document in connection with which the service is requested is required for use within the jurisdiction of the United States.

It is also possible to have a document notarized by a local foreign notary (instead of going to the embassy or consular office) and then have the document authenticated by the proper authority in the foreign country for use in the United States.[17] In accordance with 22 CFR, Part 131, the Office of Authentications provides signed certificates of authenticity for a variety of documents to individuals, institutions, and government agencies. Examples of documents that may require authentication for use abroad include: company bylaws, powers of attorney, trademarks, diplomas, treaties, warrants, extraditions, agreements, certificates of good standing, and courier letters.

The U.S. Department of State only issues apostilles for federal documents to use in countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention.[18] In countries that are a party, this is a simplified process. An Apostille certificate is attached by the foreign notary regulator, verifying that the notary certificate on the document is authenticated. This means the individual may have the document signed by a local notary, and then contact the country’s notary regulator office to have the Apostille certificate attached.

If a country is a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, the US automatically would accept the local foreign notary as long as an Apostille certificate is attached. Note that Haiti is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention.


With so many parents facing deportation, immigration attorneys, as well as estate planners and other attorneys who are assisting families with future planning, now have new tools that can assist in keeping children who are citizen in the United States and in the care of persons chosen by their parents or caregivers. Unfortunate as it may be, parents who make the hard choice to leave children here, can do so without the risks of court appearances. It is hoped that circumstances will not always remain so dire but until then, New York’s statutory amendments provide improved strategies for care that should assist many families who are facing deportations of parents or caregivers.

For more information about non-parental care, visit

Gerard Wallace, Esq.
Director, NYS Kinship Navigator
Public Service Professor
U. at Albany, School of Social Welfare
Cell: 845-594-6398



[1] Gerard Wallace, Esq., is the Director of the New York State Kinship Navigator and a Public Service Professor at the University at Albany, School of Social Welfare.

[2] While this memo often refers only to parents, it is important to note that the standby guardian statute also permits guardians, legal custodians, and certain “primary caretakers” to petition or designate a standby, and the parental designation, in addition to parents, also permits guardians to designate.

[3] See, Camila DeChalus, More US children could be separated from immigrant parents, Chicago Tribune (July 14, 2018),

[4] Jeffrey S. Passel & D’Vera Cohn, Unauthorized immigrant population stable for half a decade, Pew Research Center – Fact Tank (September 21, 2016).

[5] Illegal immigrant population of the United States, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (last edited April 8, 2018),, citing Pew Research Center. 2017-04-27.  Retrieved 2017-08-22.

[6] In Jennings v. Rodriguez, 138 S. Ct. 830, (Feb. 27, 2018), (Alito, J.) in a 5-3 decision, the US Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Ninth Circuit decision which concluded that detained aliens have the right to periodic bond hearings during the course of their detention. As a result, indefinite detention is allowed for applicants for admission and detainees.

[7] DACA Factsheet, Numbers USA,

[8] Number of Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by Fiscal Year, Quarter, Intake, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,, Biometrics and Case Status Fiscal Year 2012-2017 (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2017).

[9] Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act, The New York Times, Sept. 5, 2017,

[10] Fact Sheet, U.S. Citizen Children Impacted by Immigration Enforcement, American Immigration Council (May 23, 2018),

[11] Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, A Statistical and Demographic Profile of the US Temporary Protected Status Populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, Center for Migration Studies, Journal on Migration and Human Security, Volume 5 Number 3 (2017): 577-592, .

[12] Numerous statutes codify procedures and standards regarding various custodial arrangements. Listed here are just a few of the most relevant.

[13] Under the Trump administration’s executive orders, access to family court information can bear special risks because undocumented immigrants who were not previously targeted for immigration enforcement are now priorities whenever they engage in conduct that “constitutes a criminal offense” or is deemed by any individual immigration officer to “pose a risk to public safety.” This wide discretion and broadly worded language suggests that any arrest or other conduct deemed “a risk” may prompt Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to apprehend a noncitizen, regardless of whether the conduct results in criminal prosecution and conviction.

[14] Information from orders of protection are immigration-related triggers for several reasons. A family court finding that an individual has violated an order of protection, even a temporary one, is grounds for deportation. Even if an order is not violated, the existence of a temporary or permanent protective order can be grounds for denying an individual an immigration benefit or relief from removal. An order of protection may also prompt questions about the underlying conduct, and additional requests for family court records.

[15] New York State Senate, Bill S6217, 2017-2018 Legislative Session, Diane J. Savino, sponsor,

[16] For instance, services provided in the Country of Haiti can be found at: public/.

[17] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Authentications,,

[18] See:  Countries that are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention can be found here: