Sunday, March 31, 2019

Immigration Simulations: Looking Beyond Traditional Casebooks in Teaching Immigration Law


Guest Post by Immprof Regina Jefferies:

Despite the whiplash-inducing speed, frequency, and breadth of changes to immigration law over the last two years, administrative policy moves, field office procedural and substantive idiosyncrasies, the complex relationship between state and Federal authority, and the highly discretionary character of immigration enforcement far predate the current Administration (See Motomura, 2014). Teaching the practice and theory of immigration law thus poses numerous difficulties, particularly if approached as "knowledge transfer." Law and policy often change at the drop of a hat, as do the mechanisms and procedures lawyers have at their disposal to advocate on behalf of clients.

In light of this reality, Immigration Simulations: Bridge to Practice provides students with scenarios based upon real experiences and legal materials, while encouraging students to think critically and creatively in identifying and solving problems. The book is written as a novel and guided by directed questions and assignments, immersing students in the stories of real-life clients to provide a birds-eye view of the lawyering skills and substantive law involved in the practice of immigration law. The text follows two primary real-life client stories, designed to provide the experience of working a case from beginning to end. Several shorter, real-life client scenarios highlight particularly challenging aspects of substantive and procedural immigration practice as it stood at the beginning of 2018. As students bring a variety of prior knowledge, learning approaches, and even conceptions of learning to the classroom (Biggs, 1993), Immigration Simulations aids in priming student engagement, linking to self-identified prior knowledge, and sets the stage for open and critical discussion.

Students develop strategies and advise clients on potential courses of action in a diverse range of situations, using real case documents. The book encourages the development of critical thinking skills by inviting students to examine concepts and material in a wider context, and to test their understandings and think creatively about how to apply that knowledge in different scenarios (Ledoux & McHenry, 2004). Rather than working with a set of predetermined facts extracted from a legal opinion, students learn to cut through the noise and identify information to frame and develop cases. Not only do students demonstrate a deeper understanding of the material, they leave equipped to apply their knowledge and skills outside the classroom.

-KitJ posted on behalf of Regina Jefferies

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