On March 9th, Retired Immigration Judge Thomas Snow spoke to a group of over fifty community members and students about the immigration court system. His presentation focused on practical tips and information regarding immigration court proceedings, what puts someone at risk of removal from the United States, and information about immigration detention.
Judge Snow’s remarks put into context many issues that have been across the headlines, including what happens when someone is in immigration detention, access to counsel, and criminal charges or convictions that put someone at risk of removal. He discussed a wide range of reasons why individuals with different immigration statuses may be put in deportation proceedings, ranging from green card holders who stay out of the country too long to asylum seekers fleeing violence in their home countries. Attendees were able to hear firsthand the importance of immigrants showing up to court, and the importance of having an attorney.
Judge Snow also discussed the role of immigration judges. He viewed his role as someone who applies the law as it is written, not as he hopes or wants it to be. He told stories about cases where he found immigrants to be sympathetic, but how the law would not protect them from removal because of how it is currently written.
Community members posed several questions to the retired judge, ranging from advice for professors serving as expert witnesses to thoughts on policy. Perhaps most important to the community members in attendance, the Judge discussed how letters from community members can be helpful to an immigrant’s case. “I only spend a few hours with someone in their individual hearing,” the Judge said. “It helps to hear from someone who really knows the person.”
Attendees were effusive with their praise for the presentation. “Judge Snow really did a great a job of explaining things so clearly,” said Professor Jennifer Bickham Mendez, Professor of Sociology at William & Mary. “It was an incredibly valuable session.”
“We are so grateful to Judge Snow for sharing his expertise and practical information with our students and community, and for being such an engaging speaker,” said Professor Stacy Kern-Scheerer, Director of the Immigration Clinic. “His presentation brought together so many organizations and individuals in the community who work with and support immigrants, and now we are all better equipped and more informed.”
The William & Mary Law School Immigration Clinic plans to host more events in the future to educate the Hampton Roads community on issues related to immigration law and policy. Please contact us to discuss presentations to your group or organization, and check out our Clinic Events page to learn about other upcoming presentations.