FAMU HALSA Annual Symposium Provides Insight on Current State of Immigration Reform

Article post date 10/25/13

FAMU College of Law HALSA 2013 Symposium Panelists and Moderators: Krissia Mendez, third-year; Susannah Randolph, 2010 Campaign Manager for Congressman Alan Grayson; José Manuel Godínez-Samperio, Florida State University law school alum; Kelsey Burke, second-year; Maritza Reyes, Associate Professor Law; Jilé Dashtso, College of Law alum and immigration attorney; Catherine Henin-Clark, immigration attorney; and Yahaira Ureña, third-year.

Orlando, Fla. The Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law's Hispanic American Law Student Association (HALSA) held its annual symposium on Thursday, October 10, 2013.  The symposium, The Current State of Immigration Reform: A Pathway to Legalization for the 11 Million, was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) as the signature event among several hosted during Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 - Oct. 15).

A Pathway to Legalization featured five panelists who discussed the current state of comprehensive immigration reform in the legislation, with specific examination of Senate Bill 744 in the 113th Congress "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act."  Also known as S. 744, the proposal was written by a bipartisan group of eight Senators, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and addresses all aspects of the immigration process.

The discussion panel included Jilé Dashtso, College of Law alum and immigration law attorney; Catherine Henin-Clark, an attorney with 26 years of experience in immigration practice; Susannah Randolph, 2010 Campaign Manager for Congressman Alan Grayson; and Maritza Reyes, Associate Professor of Law and member of the Board of Advisors of the Harvard Latino Law Review.  HALSA also made efforts to place a representative from Senator Marco Rubio's office on the panel, but the staff was furloughed at the time of the event. 

The panel also included José Manuel Godínez-Samperio, a Florida State University law school alum who is currently fighting to gain admission to the Florida Bar. His application prompted the Florida Board of Bar Examiners to submit a request for an advisory opinion to the Supreme Court of Florida on an issue of first impression:  “Are undocumented immigrants eligible for admission to The Florida Bar?”  The question remains pending before the highest court of Florida.

Panelists addressed questions posed by audience members and HALSA moderators Kelsey Burke, second-year; Krissia Mendez, third-year; and Yahaira Ureña, third-year.  Question topics included current laws affecting immigrants and their families; the policy considerations behind the need for comprehensive immigration reform; Senate Bill 744 which promotes border enforcement; the mandatory use of E-verify by employers; and a long-term pathway to naturalization for millions of undocumented immigrants. 

Following the symposium, discussion continued at a dinner reception which featured a Latin cuisine of arroz con pollo, platanos y gallatas (chicken and rice, plantains and cookies).  Student attendees also requested further information on how to get involved to promote more understanding and flexible legislation.

"The event was yet another opportunity to showcase our law school to the community as a beacon of tolerance, diversity, intellectual discussion and civic managements," said Sergio Ruiz, second-year and Student Bar Association Vice President.