HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. —
For the second year, the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University recently hosted the Immigration Law and Border Enforcement Program from May 20-27. The course, which is co-sponsored by Hofstra Law and the National Center for Border Security and Immigration, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, was conducted on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso.
The first of its kind in the United States, this intensive program of study provided 20 students the chance to see the complex system of immigration law and border enforcement at work. In addition to Hofstra Law students, participants attend other law schools, including Santa Clara University School of Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law and Villanova University School of Law.
“As controversies over immigration law and maintenance of the border continue to play out across the country, this program provides aspiring lawyers with a unique and exciting opportunity to gain practical knowledge in the field,” said Eric Lane, interim dean and Eric J. Schmertz Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Public Service at Hofstra Law.
This year’s Immigration Law and Border Enforcement Program included lectures, practical training, a border tour, a visit to a detention center and the opportunity to watch immigration and federal court proceedings. The accompanying course, Immigration Enforcement at the Border, analyzed the ways in which federal immigration officers enforce laws along the border and the various legal, political, human and moral issues that arise. Students also attended a presentation to 25 U.S. border patrol agents on current case law that governs the authority of agents to stop individuals because they are suspected to have crossed the border. The presentation was conducted by Hofstra Law Professors Rose Villazor and Lauris Wren.
“Enforcement of the border is only one part of the overall immigration law scheme, and by participating in this program, students can hone in on this specific issue and gain hands-on experience in an area that they might not otherwise be exposed to,” said Villazor, who has taught the course for the past two years.
She added, “Through the study of the relevant laws and cases, the course considers how enforcement of immigration law at the border has led to significant tensions between immigration officers’ authority to guard the border on sovereignty and security grounds and the rights of individuals to, among other things, privacy and equal protection under the law.”
As part of the program, students met with several judges, lawyers and law enforcement officials based in El Paso who deal with issues of immigration and border enforcement; presenters included: Peter Arcuri ’99, Office of Assistant Chief Counsel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Richard Barragan, border patrol agent; U.S. District Judge David Briones, Western District of Texas; Adrian Gallegos, U.S. Attorney’s Office; Edgar Holguin, federal public defender; and the Honorable Thomas Hough, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice.
Considering the demographic dynamic of the region and the challenges to immigration law enforcement, El Paso is an ideal location for the onsite study of border security. El Paso stands on the Rio Grande, across the border from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The two cities form a combined international metropolitan area, sometimes called Juárez-El Paso. Together they have a combined population of 2 million people, with Ciudad Juárez accounting for two-thirds of the population. In 2010 El Paso was awarded an All-America City Award, and it has been recognized as the safest large city in the U.S.
“Last year the program was smaller and mostly comprised of Hofstra Law students, so to expand it programmatically, increase our roster of speakers and be able to include students from around the country this year was incredibly exciting,” said Villazor.