On Sept. 24, 2018, Siena College welcomed Sarah Rogerson, J.D., LL.M., a professor at Albany Law School and director of the Immigration Law Clinic. The Siena Chamber Singers opened the Constitution Day event with a performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The performance was then followed by warm welcomes from Dr. Margaret Madden, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dr. Leonard M. Cutler, Director of the Center for the Study of Government and Politics.
To begin her talk, Professor Rogerson discussed the complexity behind the federal government’s involvement with immigration policy. Rogerson mentioned several departments and agencies to further emphasize this point, noting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review under the United States Department of Justice. The multitude of federal involvement with immigration is outstanding, especially considering the absence of the word “immigration” in the United States Constitution. Professor Rogerson briefly discussed how the Constitution was interpreted to allow the federal government to have authority over immigration and how this authority was used.
To provide background information on the federal government’s authority over immigration legislation, Professor Rogerson cited the Constitution and the Immigration Act of 1891. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution reads “To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization…”. The 14th Amendment addresses the protection of “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…” which extended citizenship to former slaves, and the 10th Amendment suggested that the rules of immigration were reserved to the states. It was not until 1876 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that immigration regulation belonged exclusively to the federal government. The Immigration Act of 1891 placed further restrictions on immigration based on health and public charges.
With this information, Professor Rogerson then spoke of immigration policy today, citing high-profile legislation, such as Executive Order 13769, the removal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the removal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from thousands of immigrants who fled their homes for refuge. Rogerson also mentioned the Trump administration’s “zero policy” rule on unlawful entry into the country and how it pairs with different levels of immigrant classification, particularly those seeking asylum.
Throughout the event, Professor Rogerson discussed the Immigration Law Clinic and its mission. The Immigration Law Clinic is an “experiential course” through which students represent immigrant victims of crime, both detained and not detained. Students are trained to represent immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and immigrant juveniles and applicants under the Violence Against Women Act. Rogerson noted the work that the students execute and the impressive rates at which they win court cases representing immigrants. Rogerson mentioning the hard work and dedication of the students towards representing an otherwise underrepresented group of people was a refreshing closing tone to the presentation.
The event concluded with Dr. Cutler offering thanks to Professor Rogerson for her presentation and advertised open internship positions with the Immigration Law Clinic for the spring semester.