What drew you to the law?
My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt and Turkey, and, at a young age, I was exposed to the enormous economic and social disparities in our world. I was initially pre-med, but my interest in human rights eventually drew me to law school. I wanted to learn to use law as a tool to empower people and create social change. My approach to law remains very interdisciplinary, drawing on science, social psychology, and the humanities.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I love seeing students light up when they are excited by new ideas, begin to unravel the complexities of an issue that at first appeared black and white, and confront new perspectives that make them question their preconceived notions. It’s an honor to be able to help students discover their passions and cultivate their gifts in their journey through life. Teaching also challenges me to deepen my own understanding, find innovative ways to engage and inspire, and practice compassion.
What do you hope students gain from your courses?
I hope students will learn how to approach real-life problems, identify gaps and gray areas in the law, and craft sound policy arguments. In the Immigrant Rights Clinic, students learn that they can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Beyond teaching how to litigate in court, handle complex appeals, and engage in impact advocacy, I seek to instill a lifelong commitment to pro bono or public interest work.
What did you do prior to entering academia?
Before entering academia, I worked as a staff attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance, clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall in the Central District of California, and practiced immigration law in Los Angeles, focusing particularly on asylum, deportation defense, and federal appeals.
What are you passionate about outside the law?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling the world, hiking, and sundry artistic endeavors.
What are your research interests?
My scholarship explores the intersections of immigration law, international human rights law, and constitutional law. Some of my recent projects have examined the rights of mentally incompetent individuals in removal proceedings, the exclusion of DREAMers from the Affordable Care Act, and community-based alternatives to immigration detention. I also engage in empirical research to expand our understanding of judicial decision-making and implicit bias in immigration appeals.