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January 14, 2019

Immigration reform and enforcement, rise of hate crimes among highlights at American Bar Association meeting Jan. 23-28 in Las Vegas

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2019 — New American Bar Association recommendations on immigration system reform, opposition to ICE enforcement at U.S. courthouses, and the rise of hate crimes against immigrants and people of color are chief among legal issues related to immigration and diversity that will be explored at the 2019 American Bar Association Midyear Meeting Jan. 23-28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

With several hundred top-quality legal programs and events, and presentations by America’s foremost law experts and speakers, the ABA Midyear Meeting is the nation’s premier gathering of legal professionals.

The 601-member ABA House of Delegates—the association’s policy-making body—will meet Jan. 28, 9 a.m., in Augustus Ballroom (Emperors Level) of the Conference Center at Caesars Palace. For details on the proposals for debate and vote during the one-day session, click here.    

Online registration is available for news reporters. Credential guidelines are here.  

Programs related to diversity and immigration include:


Friday, Jan. 25


Trafficking in the World of Chance: Human Trafficking in the Casino Industry and Beyond An expert local panel – including Las Vegas Judge Linda Bell of the Eighth Judicial Court; Director William Brunson of the National Judicial College of Reno; Security Vice President George Jenkot of Firekeepers Casino; and Deputy Chief Cristina Silva of Nevada’s U.S. Attorney’s Office – will examine the human trafficking industry and its role in the casino industry, with a focus on the ways to identify victims, and the steps that must be taken to help end this form of modern human slavery.

1-2:30 p.m., Forum Ballroom 15-16, Pool Level

10 Ways to Change the World – #MakeJusticeReal Nationally recognized experts on a variety of advocacy issues, including civil rights, gun violence prevention, homelessness and poverty, human rights and more, will share how lawyers can leverage their passion for making a difference to affect change and inform the national discourse.

3-5 p.m., Augustus Ballroom III, Emperors Level

“Putting ICE on Ice?” — In the past two years, the presence and activities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in state courthouses has been controversial. Panelists from across the criminal justice spectrum will discuss how immigration enforcement has interfered with state-court proceedings and the measures taken to maintain the independence of the courts, including specific actions some courts and state legislatures have taken to exclude ICE from conducting enforcement at state courthouses and proceedings.

3:30-5 p.m., Capri Room, Emperors Level


How American Women Can Change the World Internationally acclaimed author Marianne Williamson discusses female power and contribution and its role in how American women are transforming U.S. society.

4-5:30 p.m., Forum Ballroom 24, Pool Level


Saturday, Jan. 26

“Better to Be Rich & Guilty? How Implicit Socio-Economic Bias Influences Outcomes of Judicial Bias” A panel of judges – including Bernice Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis – lawyers and noted academics will examine the role of socio-economic bias in the justice system and offer research-based strategies to identify and mitigate the problem on a personal and systemic level for more equitable system outcomes.

10-11:30 a.m., Augustus Ballroom V, Emperors Level

“The Rising Tide of Hate:  How Welcoming the Stranger in a Nation of Immigrants Has Turned Violent” As the majority of hate crimes in the United States are now based on race and ethnicity, an expert panel – including MALDEF President Thomas Saenz, HIAS President Mark Hetfield and Michael Kagan and Mayra Salinas-Menjivar of the University of Nevada Las Vegas – will examine the alarming rise in American nationalism and xenophobia that has led to anti-immigrant rhetoric, intensified immigration enforcement and incidents such as the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The panel will discuss what can be done to reverse the anti-immigrant fervor and restore faith in America as a beacon of opportunity for migrants.

9-10:30 a.m., Octavius Ballroom 7-8, Promenade South

“New Release: ABA Update Report on Reforming the U.S. Immigration System As the nation’s immigration courts and other adjudicative systems face untenable backlogs and growing concerns about due process and independence, the ABA will release an update to its 2010 report on the U.S. immigration system, highlighting necessary legislative action for vital systemic reform.  The ABA report will offer a practical blueprint to improve the system so that it protects our most vulnerable, while also promoting fairness and due process.

Noon-1 p.m., Octavius Ballroom 7-8, Promenade South


Spirit of Excellence Awards” – The ABA will recognize four legal professionals with its 2019 Spirit of Excellence Award for their commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession: Willie E. Gary, Pamela Jones Harbour, John Lim and Peter M. Reyes Jr.

Noon-2 p.m., Palace Ballroom I, Emperors Level


“The Resurgence of Racism in the Age of ‘Making America Great Again:’ The Role of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Lawyer in Dismantling Anti-Black Racism in Modern America” Experts will lead a frank discussion of the realities of “living while black” in today’s America, exploring the origins of the modern-day injustices, including: assaults on voting rights; educational inequities; the weaponization of law enforcement; macro- and micro-aggressions; and the policing of everyday actions. This program will identify the role of both citizens and civil rights and social justice lawyers in dismantling the systems, policies and practices that normalize racism and perpetuate the inequities that disproportionately impact African Americans.

12:30-2 p.m., Florentine Ballroom II, Promenade Level

“Conversion Therapy: Laws, Policy, Advocacy and Awareness in the United States and Beyond” As the recent movie “Boy Erased” raises awareness of LGBT conversion therapy, noted experts – including National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter, Williams Center Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels and survivor Mathew Shurka – will discuss the laws, policy and advocacy work surrounding the disturbing treatment.

2:30-3:45 p.m., Florentine Ballroom IV, Promenade Level

Tinker at 50: Student Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate and Beyond In the 50 years since the Supreme Court recognized that students have freedom of speech and other constitutional rights in public schools with its ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, what has changed? Academics – including Professor Kay Kindred of the University of Nevada Las Vegas Boyd School of Law – will answer the question in light of five decades of evolution in technology, education and societal values.

2:30-4 p.m., Florentine Ballroom II, Promenade Level

2019 Stonewall Awards Three longstanding activists will be honored by the ABA with its Sixth Annual Stonewall Award for advancing LGBT people in the legal profession and championing LGBT legal causes: Mark Agrast, Mary Eaton and Sharon McGowan.

6-7:15 p.m., Emperors Ballroom II, Emperors Level


During the Midyear Meeting, accredited journalists should register onsite or pick up their preregistered press credentials at the Promenade Level foyer of the Conference Center at Caesars Palace beginning at 9 a.m. on Jan. 23. A press room for accredited reporters will be provided in the Roman Room on the Promenade Level starting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 25. The room will be open daily thereafter from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Jan. 28.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews