August 01, 2018

Annual 2018: Two programs to examine immigration crisis – and what lawyers can do to help

This is the year immigration exploded as America’s top political issue.

It’s the year President Donald Trump rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected young undocumented immigrants. The year the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel ban. And the year that the U.S. president revoked temporary protected status for more than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras and other countries.

Finally, it is the year of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated more than 2,300 immigrant children from their parents at the Mexican border.

While the president revoked that separation policy on June 20, his action raised new concerns about prolonged family detention and the failure to reunite many separated children with their parents.

Two panels of experts will take on these volatile issues and their legal ramifications on Saturday, Aug. 4, at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago. Both programs are sponsored by the ABA Commission on Immigration.

“Families on the Precipice: Navigating the Separation, Detention and Reunification of Families at the U.S. Border”

9-10 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey Room

The panel will discuss the latest issues resulting from the forced separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. Panelists will also examine the legal impact on parental rights, children’s rights, immigration court system and the ongoing failure of the government to return separated children to their parents unless they submit to deportation.

The association’s response and what concerned lawyers can do to help will also be highlighted.   

The panel will include:

  • Moderator Angela Vigil, executive director of pro bono practices at Baker & McKenzie LLP;
  • Maria Woltjen, executive director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago Law School;
  • Anne Chandler, executive director of the Tahirih Justice Center in Houston;
  • Kimi Jackson, director of ProBAR, the ABA’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation in Harlingen, Texas; and
  • Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe, clinical associate professor of law at Northwestern University.

ABA President Hilarie Bass, who recently returned from a trip to help assess the legal needs of those separated from their children at the south Texas border, will give an opening statement.

The Trump Immigration Agenda:  Redefining a Nation of Immigrants”

10-11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey Room

This panel will discuss the impact of the Trump administration’s attempts to restructure immigration law and policy, placing these issues into the broader context of the fight over American values. Panelists will explore the impact of these policies on the future of legal migration, refugee resettlement and the creation of a new class of undocumented individuals.

The panel will include:

  • Moderator Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center and chair of the ABA Commission on Immigration;
  • Mary Giovagnoli, director of Refugee Council USA;
  • Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas; and
  • Mark Fleming, associate director of litigation with the National Immigrant Justice Center.