Thursday, May 18, 2017
Today began the Fourth Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference, hosted this year by Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth. The focus of the conference is "New Realities" - a perfect theme for the times we find ourselves in.
We were graciously welcomed to the program by TAMU immprofs Fatma Marouf and Angela Morrison.
The first plenary session was a career panel. Jean Han (American) kicked things off with advice for those going on the market: "Don't freak out." Solid. Angela Morrison (TAMU) spoke from the perspective of a new hire having served on the appointments committee, addressing how to "make yourself a competitive candidate.” Liz Keyes (Baltimore) spoke about success on the tenure track including how to be a team player while playing to your individual strengths. Leticia Saucedo (Davis) offered insights from the other side of tenure - including my favorite nugget "cultivate a network" to help with the various aspects of your career. Leticia also plugged the Faculty Boot Camp available through facultydiversity.org, which sounds fantastic.
After the plenary session, we broke into smaller groups for discussion of works-in-progress. I had the pleasure of reading the WIPs submitted by Mary Holper (BC) and Mina Barahimi (Berkeley). Mary is exploring the Fourth Amendment implications of administrative and expedited removal, and Mina is examining the coercive tactics used at the border to encourage voluntary removal to Mexico. Great pieces to keep an eye out for as they develop into to published works.
Over the lunch hour, Anil Kalhan (Drexel) led us all in a discussion of what it means to teach immigration law in interesting times. It's not always easy.
Post-lunch, we reconvened as a whole to discuss scholarship. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (Denver) spoke about his post-Trump scholarship which has taken new forms, embracing blog posts, op-eds, legislative testimony, and media appearances. He strongly recommended the acquisition of an umbrella insurance policy covering legal fees for defamation and libel suits - concrete, actionable advice! Jennifer Lee Koh (Western State) spoke about the intersection of her work as a clinician/practitioner/advocate/scholar and also about the benefits of identifying an individualized writing process to facilitate scholarship. Rick Su (Buffalo) encouraged everyone to question the assumed foundations of immigration scholarship - for example that immigration law is federal and federal immigration law is good - and perhaps move the field forward by taking new approaches. Ming Hsu Chen (Colorado) spoke about interdisciplinary work and how professors can endeavor to ensure that their scholarship matters. Ming helpfully pointed the group to the Scholars Strategy Network as a concrete way to become a "citizen scholar."
And then it was time for another round of WIPs or, in our group's case, incubator sessions. Geoffrey Heeren & Robert Knowles (Valpariso) are looking at how use of force in immigration enforcement functions as a form of regulation. Jennifer Lee Koh (Western State) is continuing her research on "shadow removals" (outside of immigration courts), looking at the expansion of expedited removals under Trump, and the implications of that expansion for legal and non-legal advocacy. And I'm examining how immigration might pose a unique opportunity to improve US foreign intelligence efforts.
It was a wonderful day of scholarly engagement. I look forward to continuing these discussions tomorrow.