Immigration Symposium



10 A.M. TO 4:00 P.M. CT

Our Symposium's focus will be on the practical aspects of immigration law and the current policy debates surrounding the field. Our goal is to present a compelling CLE program for immigration and non-immigration practitioners alike, as well as to provide an engaging educational experience for current law students.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear a variety of notable immigration attorneys, leaders, and scholars speak on current issues within the field of immigration law in the United States.



Eduardo Beckett
Immigration Attorney featured in
Immigration Nation Docuseries on Netflix

Samuel Cervantes
Research Associate,

Shaw Drake
Staff Attorney and Policy Counsel,
Border and Immigrants’ Rights,
ACLU of Texas

Celina Moreno
President and CEO,
Intercultural Development Research Association

Eitan Peled
UNICEF USA Child Migration &
Protection Program Manager

Cristina Rodriguez
Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law,
Yale Law School

Teresa Romero
United Farm Workers of America

Erica Schommer
Clinical Professor of Law,
St. Mary's University School of Law

Karla Vargas
Senior Attorney,
Texas Civil Rights Project


As of February 24, 2021. Subject to change. All times are Central Time.

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Invocation and Opening Remarks
Sister Grace Walle, Chaplain, St. Mary’s University School of Law and Agustín Ferreira, Symposium Editor, St. Mary’s University School of Law

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcoming Remarks
Patricia Roberts, Dean, St. Mary’s University School of Law

10:15 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. Migrant Justice & the Fight for Human Dignity
Karla Vargas, Senior Attorney at Texas Civil Rights Project. Our current immigration system is one founded upon principles of exclusion, many times guided by anti-immigrant narratives and policies that dehumanize individuals. Most recently, we saw this system pushed to extremes by the Trump administration’s immigration policies. As we move forward under a new administration, we must envision a system with robust protections for migrants, guided by principles of human dignity. (10 minutes Q&A)

10:55 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. Immigration Advocacy Fight-Club
Celina Moreno, Attorney and President and CEO of the Intercultural Development Research Association.
Samuel Cervantes, Research Associate at
Audience members will hear from advocates who have fought to defend DACA in the court of law and public opinion and who, over the course of several legislative sessions, helped lead the fight against attempts to repeal the Texas Dream Act and against several so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bills including the now-infamous Senate Bill 4. (10 minutes Q&A)

5 Minute Break

11:40 a.m. – 1:05 p.m. COVID-19 Panel
Moderated by Clinical Professor Erica Schommer of the St. Mary’s University School of Law, panelists will discuss current issues surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on the immigration system. Panelists include Eduardo Beckett, Immigration Attorney and Teresa Romero, United Farm Workers (UFW) President. (25 minutes Q&A)

1:05 p.m. – 1:35 p.m. Lunch Break

1:35 p.m. – 2:20 p.m. The Long History of Presidential Control over Immigration and the Prospects for Transformation
Cristina Rodríguez, the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School, will explore the long history of presidential control over immigration policy and its implications for the future of immigration law and the presidency itself. (10 minutes Q&A)

2:20 p.m. – 3:05 p.m. Children Uprooted: Forced Migration in Central America, Mexico, and the U.S.
Eitan Peled, UNICEF USA Child Migration & Protection Program Manager, will speak on the latest developments of child migration in the era of COVID, the ethical aspect of children and immigration, and the implications for future immigration policy. (10 minutes Q&A) (Ethics component)

5 Minute Break

3:10 p.m. – 3:55 p.m. Border Exceptionalism, Deterrence, and U.S. Border Policy
As the Biden administration takes on undoing four years of unlawful and cruel changes to border policy, will the administration really chart a new path? Shaw Drake, Staff Attorney and Policy Counsel, Border and Immigrants’ Rights, ACLU of Texas, will discuss current U.S. border policy, what failed strategies got us here, and what’s next. (10 minutes Q&A)

3:55 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Closing Remarks
Agustín Ferreira, Symposium Editor, St. Mary’s University School of Law.

Registration is now open:

  • Attorney registration $85
  • Government Employees and Non-Attorney registration $55
  • Immigration volunteer registration $25
  • Student registration $10 (scholarships available for St. Mary's School of Law students only; please email from your St. Mary's email address telling us why you would like to attend)
  • St. Mary's School of Law faculty/staff and Scholar Volume 23 member registration is free
  • Press/media registration is free


This CLE event is approved by the State Bar of Texas for 5 CLE credit hours (including 1 hour of ethics).

For more information about the 2021 Immigration Symposium, please contact Agustín Ferreira, Symposium Editor, at

Our event is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Terry Bassham ('85) & Zulema Carrasco Bassham.

Image courtesy of Good Point, Illustrated by Annelisa Leinbach,

Cristina Rodriguez photo by Harold Shapiro.