Friday, May 19, 2017
Today was the second (and, sadly, last) day of the 4th Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference. We began the day with a scholarship panel. Sameer Ashar (Irvine) spoke about his desire to "expand the spectrum of what’s permissible to talk about in the classroom.” In that vein, he spoke about picking work for the clinic, resisting NGO or academic privilege, criminalization, critiquing culture competence, not ignoring race, and questioning professional norms. He also referred folks to Guerilla Guides to Law Teaching - which includes information about clinical teaching and teaching criminal law. An immigration guide will be forthcoming, so stay tuned.
Becky Sharpless (Miami) spoke about her doctrinal and clinical immigration work - including the particular challenges of teaching in a time when "everything feels so important and significant but paltry at the same time." She spoke about ways in which she's challenging students - asking students to complete writing assignments in her doctrinal course, guiding students through the Socratic method, and challenging students to articulate their beliefs with analysis and not simply emotion. At the same time, she acknowledged that she gives herself permission to complete some tasks on her own without student involvement.
Isabel Medina (Loyola New Orleans) spoke about the arc of her career as an immprof. She emphasized the opportunities created by teaching in the post Trump era, the difficulties that occur when the classroom becomes a battlefield, and how to handle, raise, and have uncomfortable conversations with students in the classroom.
Carolina Núñez (BYU) spoke about her concerns with teaching immigration law in the time of Trump including the particular challenges of students who are afraid, keeping up with swift changes in the law, connecting the abstract with real consequences, responding to student comments that aren’t related to facts, and creating opportunities for students to DO something. Beyond identifying these concerns, Carolina spoke about how she has adjusted the format of her courses to take into account and address many of these issues.
After the plenary session, we broke into small group sessions to discuss works in progress. I had the pleasure of reading the current work of Jason Cade (Georgia), who is exploring whether sanctuary cities are not bastions of civil disobedience, as they're often described, but rather enforcers of the rule of law. Liz Keyes (Baltimore) spoke about her efforts to focus on state and local level advocacy in the time of trump - including how to re-align clinic space and build capacity among students to engage in such advocacy.
Liz's work was a terrific segment to the next break out session on Transformation Work at the State and Local Level. Bram Elias (Iowa), Liz Keyes (Baltimore), and Annie Lai (Irvine) moderated an interactive session on how professors can effectively and efficiently engage with state and local issues. We were encouraged to come up with new and concrete steps to take in order to maximize our effectiveness going forward. Many of our comments involved the identification of others who might help carry the weight of community work - including folks who could help out with or take over such tasks as know your rights presentations, administrative work, and media appearances.
After our breakout sessions, we regrouped as a whole. Pooja Dadhania (Georgetown) filled folks in about the discussions happening in another breakout session about Transformation through Amicus Work. That session also talked about developing partnerships, and also discussed the particular challenges of using amicus work as teaching and learning opportunities. Suzan Pritchett (Wyoming) summarized the breakout session on state and local advocacy.
We ended our time at TAMU with cake and cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of beloved immprof Anita Maddali (Northern Illinois).
Thank you, TAMU, for hosting this excellent conference. Whether you were able to attend or not, you can look forward to the next immprof get-togethers. We'll be in Philadelphia at Derexel for the immprof conference in May 2018. And May 2019 will take us to BYU for the next emerging immprof conference. Plan your travel budgets accordingly!