Texas A&M Law Review Hosts U.S. Immigration Law Symposium

May 1, 2017

Law Review immigration symposiumOn April 21, 2017, immigration experts from around the country gathered at Texas A&M University School of Law to participate in the Texas A&M Law Review symposium: “American Immigration Law: The New Colossus.”

The esteemed group of presenters included scholars, practitioners and policy makers who discussed the current state of U.S. immigration policies and forecasted how the recent change in administration may affect immigrants, refugees, advocates and enforcement agencies nationwide.

“Immigration is one of the most pressing legal issues our country faces today. The Texas A&M Law Review is proud to have brought together such an incredible group of professionals to examine these dynamic issues,” said Tave Doty, ​symposia ​editor of the Texas A&M Law Review.

hing-lrsympKeynote presenter Professor Bill Ong Hing, University of San Francisco, and Professor Emeritus, U.C. Davis School of Law,​ discusses "Entering the Trump ICE Age"
Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and Professor Emeritus at U.C. Davis School of Law, presented the morning keynote address, “Entering the Trump ICE Age,” in which he offered a historical narrative of U.S. immigration patterns, cultural biases and issues in policy implementation.   

“The United States is more diverse than ever. Of course increasing diversity is a trend that has been emblematic of the United States since the founding of the nation. But increased diversity of any significance in the first 150 years of the country was primarily European in nature, except of course for the millions of Africans who were transported to the nation as slaves. Thus, until Mexicans (in the 1950s) and Asian immigrants (after 1965) began arriving in significant numbers, the phrase ‘we are a nation of immigrants’ and e pluribus unum (from many, one) captured the essence of a largely Euro-centric society.”

saldana-lrsympKeynote presenter Sarah Saldaña, former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Sarah Saldaña, a former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), delivered the afternoon keynote address, briefing attendees on the role of ICE in enforcing immigration laws and the interplay between ICE and state legislatures and agencies.

Saldaña emphasized the vital role of open dialogue in bringing about effective immigration reform: “Communicate, communicate, communicate. ... Let’s have conversations, let’s have public forums, or let’s do it in a private manner … I find it very important. In Texas, we’re in the middle of this. We should be showing the country how it’s done, what a rational approach is, what meaningful reform is … Texas should be setting the stage for how we cooperate.”

panel-pham-lrsympTexas A&M Law Professor Huyen Pham moderates the panel "Federal-Local Relationships: How ​Are Cities & States Reacting?" with Rick Su, University of Buffalo School of Law; Victor Viramontes, MALDEF; and Spencer Amdur, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project
The symposium also featured two panel presentations. The morning panel explored the relationship between federal and state agencies in enforcing immigration policies and the conflicts of law and interests that arise. The afternoon panel focused on the requirements to obtain “refugee” status and tackled the nuts and bolts of the current vetting and asylum processes.

panel-marouf-lrsympProfessor Fatma Marouf, Texas A&M Law Immigrant Rights Clinic Director, moderates the panel "Extreme Vetting: What Do New Policies Mean for Immigrants and Refugees?" with Denise Gilman, University of Texas School of Law; Sabrineh Ardalan, Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic​; and Julie Kornfeld, International Refugee Assistance Project
Attendees found the symposium topic engaging and relevant, as speakers shed light on media buzzwords such as “sanctuary cities,” “asylum” and “immigration reform.” The symposium demonstrated the commitment of Texas A&M University School of Law to prepare the next generation of lawyers to become problem-solvers when it comes to immigration policy and enforcement.

Angela Morrison, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, remarked on the symposium:

“[The] symposium was an example of furthering key parts of Texas A&M’s mission to maintain ‘freedom of inquiry and an intellectual environment nurturing the human mind and spirit ... and [to] address the needs of an increasingly diverse population and a global economy.’ [The] discussion reminded us that we need to question the impact our immigration policy has on fellow human beings. The discussion encouraged us to think about how local, state,and federal government policy interacts to ease or make more difficult the day-to-day lives of community members and to consider alternatives to current policy governing refugee and asylee vetting. Finally, one of the key takeaways from the speakers, the panelists and attendees was the role that we as lawyers can serve in facilitating an accurate and open discussion about our country’s immigration policy.”

- Article by 3L Ellen Flint, ​articles ​editor of the Texas A&M Law Review. Photos by Chris Porter.

saldana-audience-lrsympMembers of the community, academics, practitioners and law students examine the past, current and future role of ICE with presenter Sarah Saldaña during the symposium luncheon keynote