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Crossing the Border: The Future of Immigration Law and Its Impact on Lawyers

Crossing the Border poster

(Boston, Revised 02/17/11) New England Law | Boston: With the controversy surrounding Arizona’s 2010 immigration statute forming a timely backdrop, the New England Law Review’s November symposium, “Crossing the Border: The Future of Immigration Law and Its Impact on Lawyers,” focused on one of the nation’s most vexing political disagreements.

Distinguished panelists reviewed the origins of today’s laws and contemplated new directions, and considered the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Padilla v. Kentucky decision, which concerned the legal obligations of attorneys representing criminal defendant immigrants who may be at risk of removal.

The first panel weighed prospects for advancing the debate.  Fatma Marouf, associate professor of law at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, declared that “Our society is rich with old-fashioned prejudice.”  She believes that this bias influences the rulings of immigration courts, which should be reformed.  Geoffrey Heeren, a fellow with Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Legal Studies, reviewed the history of immigration legal aid.  He pointed out the irony of legal aid societies, which were founded largely to assist immigrants but take few immigration cases today.

Professor Jan Ting, Temple University Beasley School of Law, asked the provocative, “1,000-pound elephant in the room” question:  “How many immigrants do we want to come to America each year?”  He offered a libertarian solution of opening our borders to all comers, relying on market forces to make rational decisions that elude legislators.

The second panel focused on Padilla v. Kentucky, which revolved around an immigrant who received bad advice in a criminal case.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ineffective criminal counsel did not negate the application of immigration laws that forced the man to leave the country.

Maureen Sweeney, assistant professor of law and director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Maryland School of Law, suggested that law schools consider team-teaching by criminal and immigration law professors.  She further recommended that law firms cross-train attorneys.  “What we need to do,” she said, “is bring together two expertises.”

Symposium panelists also included Alice Clapman, fellow, Center for Applied Legal Studies, Georgetown University; Professor Tigran Eldred, New England Law; Professor Daniel Kanstroom, director of International Human Rights Program, Boston College Law School; and Professor Rachel Rosenbloom, Northeastern University School of Law.  Center for Law and Social Responsibility (CLSR) fellow Martha Drane ’10 and Professor Dina Francesca Haynes, New England Law, served as moderators.

The event was cosponsored by the CLSR and the Immigration Law Section of the Boston Bar Association.

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