Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.
16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference
Immigration is constantly in the headlines, with the Trump administration pressing forward its policy agenda and taking action across the immigration system. At a time of intense and fast-moving action on immigration, this year’s Immigration Law and Policy Conference offers an excellent opportunity to go beyond the headlines with thoughtful analysis from leading experts. The conference, organized by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), and Georgetown University Law Center, provides timely policy and legal analysis, along with audience Q&A.
This year's panels:
9:45 - 11 a.m.: State of Play: Central to the Trump Administration’s Record, Immigration Looms as the Major 2020 Issue
Moderator: Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI
- Casey Christine Higgins, Former Assistant to the Speaker for Policy and Trade Counsel for former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI); Senior Policy Advisor, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP
- Lomi Kriel, Immigration Correspondent, Houston Chronicle
- Lorella Praeli, President of Community Change Action and Vice President of Community Change
- Julia Preston, Contributing Writer, The Marshall Project
From Donald Trump’s first utterances as a presidential candidate in 2015 to the hundreds of policy actions undertaken during his administration, immigration has loomed as the major touchstone for his political base. It is the issue to which the president and his administration return again and again. Chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border resulted from a sharp uptick in flows, as well as outmatched policies, infrastructure, and resources. Now, a growing number of Americans cite immigration as one of the most crucial national issues. Yet Congress remains incapable of even small-bore fixes, continuing its nearly two-decade inability to undertake substantive immigration legislation. Vast differences exist among Republican and Democratic politicians and other stakeholders—from “build the wall” and narrowing humanitarian protections on one side, to #AbolishICE and pressing to decriminalize illegal crossings on the other.
Whither immigration as high-stakes elections approach in 2020? In this lively State of Play conversation, political and policy experts explore the politics of immigration, the pitfalls for both political parties, and the potential for a post-election pause in the brinkmanship, along with what other pressing challenges may converge to force action in Washington.
11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.: Drawing a New Line: Recent Changes in U.S.-Mexico Border Policy
Moderator: Anna Gallagher, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
- Dylan Corbett, Founding Director, Hope Border Institute
- Sue Kenney-Pfalzer, Director Border and Asylum Network, HIAS
- Joel Rose, Correspondent, National Desk, National Public Radio
Under the current administration, U.S.-Mexico border polices have dominated headlines, becoming both the symbol and testing ground of hardline immigration policy. Family separation, the deaths of children in immigration custody, and the detention of men, women, and children in unsafe, overcrowded conditions have stirred national concern.
The asylum system alone has been hamstrung by “metering” that slows entry to a trickle, enormous court backlogs, the wholesale return to Mexico of asylum applicants awaiting their court appearances, and policies that attempt to force applicants to first seek protection in other countries.
This panel explores what these policies have meant to asylum seekers and the communities that straddle the 2,000-mile-long line. Topics include family separation, Remain in Mexico, the wall, state and local work, and more. The panelists also considered whether the administration is achieving results with its efforts to reshape overall enforcement, the responses from local border communities, and related litigation.
2 - 3:15 p.m.: The Humanitarian and Migration Crisis Originating in Central America: The Need for Regional Approaches
Moderator: Andrew Schoenholtz, Professor from Practice, Georgetown Law; Director, Human Rights Institute; Co-Director, Center for Applied Legal Studies
- Chiara Cardoletti-Carroll, Deputy Regional Representative for the United States of America and the Caribbean, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- Anthony Fontes, Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University
- Maureen Meyer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights, WOLA
In recent years, the humanitarian and migration crisis in the three Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has resulted in increasing international migration, particularly of women and children as well as unaccompanied minors. Most of them cross the Guatemala-Mexico border to head towards the United States, while some migrate to countries in the region, such as Costa Rica. Many are fleeing serious violence carried out by gangs and other non-state actors, though the search for better livelihoods and family reunification with relatives already in the United States plays a role as well. Governments do not control territories where gangs and drug cartels rule, nor are they able to protect women and girls from domestic abuse and other forms of violence or insecurity. Natural disasters, climate change, food insecurity, and poor economic conditions exacerbate the situation for vulnerable people. This panel focuses on the best ways for governments, international organizations, and NGOs in the region to address this crisis, particularly in terms of root causes and the protection of families and children.
3:45 - 5 p.m.: Volleying among the Branches of Government: DACA, TPS, Asylum, and Other Policies That Hang in the Balance
Moderator: Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI's office at New York University School of Law
- Kim Johnson, Director, California Department of Social Services
- David Shahoulian, Chief Counsel, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, U.S. House of Representatives
- Cecillia Wang, Deputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union
In an unprecedented era of executive branch policy-making in the immigration arena, the nation’s federal judiciary has been called to decide a raft of major cases that hold the lives of more than 1 million recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status in the balance, and govern the conditions of care for children in immigration detention and the ability to apply for asylum. The administration’s action on the "public charge" rule may end up in the courts as well, and the fallout from the controversy of including a citizenship question on the 2020 census remains unsettled. What are the legal underpinnings, the stakes, and the possible outcomes as the nation’s courts, from district courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, hear and rule on a consequential portfolio of legal challenges? And what is or will be Congress’ response given the dynamic interplay of litigation and executive action? Our panel of top experts tackles these big questions.