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Chasing Liberty: Family Detention Symposium
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When: Friday, February 3rd
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Where: UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, 5th Floor
4340 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC  20008
United States
Contact: Professor Kristina Campbell

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John Moore/Getty Images

Family members reunite through bars and mesh of the U.S.–Mexico border fence at Friendship Park on Nov. 17, 2013, in San Diego. The U.S. Border Patrol allows people on the American side to visit with friends and family through the fence on weekends, although under supervision from Border Patrol agents. Access to the fence from the Tijuana, Mexico, side is 24/7. Deportation and the separation of families is a major theme in the immigration-reform debate.

Chasing Liberty:
The Detention of Central American Families in the United States

Friday, February 3, 2017

On Friday February 3, 2017, UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law will host a day-long conference on the detention of Central American Families in the United States.

The conference will bring together advocates, law students, and academics throughout the nation who have been fighting to end the detention of immigrant families. In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reinstituted an abandoned policy of detaining children and their parents seeking asylum in the United States. Families were first held in Artesia, New Mexico, which was accurately described as a “deportation mill,” and now in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, along with a smaller detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Thousands of children and their mothers have now been held in confinement while their cases are processed, with a small portion of the families held for more than a year.

The conference will examine the history of family detention, along with the various advocacy strategies, litigation-based and otherwise, advanced to end this practice. We will also hear from law student volunteers from UDC and Lewis & Clark who have engaged with detained families during or after their release from detention. Scholars will also examine the international human rights ramifications of detaining families and of asylum free zones in the United States. Finally, as we hope that the new administration will put an end to the detention of children and their mothers, we will pivot to examine the post-release crisis. How do we ensure adequate representation for asylum-seeking families released from detention? How do we win claims for protection in difficult jurisdictions? We will also examine the lessons learned from the massive national movement built to advocate for detained families and try to replicate our successes in representation in detained and non-detained settings nationwide.  

We will start the day with opening remarks from Professor emerita, Barbara Hines, followed by a panel tracing the history of family detention and painting a picture of the current detention system. This will be followed by a panel examining the legal and advocacy challenges to the practice of detaining mothers and children, from the Flores case to hunger strikes by the mothers themselves. During lunch, students who have volunteered inside the detention centers will share their perspectives. After lunch, we will examine international human rights law and policy as it pertains to the detention of children and mothers. We will then dive into the post-release crisis – how to ensure competent legal representation and winning results for families released from detention and seeking asylum. Finally, we will consider how to harness the power of law students and remote work and apply lessons learned from the family detention context to immigration representation and immigration detention centers nationwide.

The program for the day is as follows:

Breakfast and Registration: 8:30-9:00

Opening Remarks: Dean Shelley Broderick, followed by Barbara Hines

History & Phases of Family Detention, 9:30-10:30am

·         Bridget Cambria, Partner with Cambria & Kline; Founder, ALDEA People’s Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

·         Barbara Hines, Emerson Fellow and Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas – Austin

·         Andrea Meza, Equal Justice Works Fellow & Staff Attorney, RAICES, San Antonio, Texas

·         Katie Shepherd, former Managing Attorney of the CARA Project and current Legal Fellow at the American Immigration Council


Legal and Advocacy-based Challenges to Family Detention, 10:30am-12:00pm

·         Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council

·         Andrew Free, Law Office of R. Andrew Free, Nashville, Tennessee

·         Karen Lucas, Associate Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association ·

·         Lindsay Nash, Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo Law


(Lunch served at noon)

Lunch – Law Students and Detained Families, 12:45-1:15pm

·         Cecilia Anguiano, Law Student at Lewis & Clark Colle Law School, Portland, Oregon

·         Kristina Campbell, *Moderator, Professor of Law and Jack and Lovell Olender Director, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

·         Jessica Christy, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, Washington DC

·         Tessa Copeland, Law Student at Lewis & Clark College Law School, Portland, Oregon

·         Conchita Cruz, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

·         Jonathan Newton, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, Washington DC


International Human Rights Law and Family Detention, 1:15-2:15pm

·         Lindsay M. Harris, *Moderator, Assistant Professor of Law, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

·         Michelle Mendez, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc

·         Sarah Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law, Director of Transnational Legal Clinic, Penn Law

·         Shana Tabak¸ Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia State University, College of Law and Global Studies Institute

Winning All of the Cases All of the Time/The Post-Release Crisis 2:15-3:45pm

·         Blaine Bookey, Co-Legal Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, San Francisco, CA

·         Dree Collopy, Partner, Benach Collopy LLP, Washington DC

·         Conchita Cruz, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

·         Michelle Mendez, *Moderator, Staff Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc

Coffee Break: 3:45-4:15pm

Harnessing the Power of Law Students and Remote Work: Lessons for Immigration Representation in Detained and Non-detained Settings Nationwide, 4:15-5:15pm

·         Andrea Meza, Equal Justice Works Fellow & Staff Attorney, RAICES, San Antonio, Texas

·         Swapna Reddy, Co-Director, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

·         Anita Sinha, Assistant Professor of Law, Director of International Human Rights Clinic, American University Washington College of Law.

·         Maureen Sweeney, Associate Professor, Director of Immigration Clinic, University of Maryland Law School

Reception following the Conference – 5:15-6:30pm

Registration: Please register for the conference here.

Questions should be directed to Assistant Professor of Law, Lindsay M. Harris at




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