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THOUGHTS AND TAKEAWAYS FROM THE 19TH ANNUAL FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION: IMMIGRATION LAW CONFERENCE

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 19th Annual Immigration Law Conference hosted by the Federal Bar Association for the first time. This year's conference took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon my arrival at the conference, which was held at the New Orleans Marriott, I immediately noticed the feeling of collective interest among the participants, all of whom were eager to share and contribute knowledge in the field of immigration law. Top practitioners from all over the country participated in the various events, including members of the private bar, distinguished judges and government employees from different agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security, speaking candidly about key issues relating to their areas of expertise.

The conference was broken up into three different "tracks," which separated the different panels into three distinct areas of interest within the practice of immigration law: litigation, family/humanitarian, and business. I was proud to see our very own H. Raymond Fasano speak on a panel entitled "Cancellation of Removal: Permanent Resident and Non-Permanent Resident" alongside the Honorable Denise Slavin from the National Association of Immigration Judges, and Assistant Chief Counsel Charlotte Marquez from the Office of Chief Counsel in New Orleans for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This star-studded panel offered great tips in the litigation of Cancellation of Removal cases and provided thoughtful discussion on the more challenging areas of this particular area of law. Similar to his demeanor in our office, Mr. Fasano provided knowledgeable insight by rattling off cutting-edge cases and offering anecdotal material that could only be offered by a veteran litigator. For the rest of the conference, when I introduced myself as an associate attorney at Youman, Madeo & Fasano, LLP, I received a great deal of praise on Mr. Fasano's panel. I also was asked if I remembered the second or third "important takeaway" that Mr. Fasano had offered during the panel, that they had apparently missed. In these moments, I felt a sense of pride for being a part of YMF and the great respect we hold in the immigration law community.

Though I attended mostly litigation track panels, I was also able to attend some of the panels in the family/humanitarian track, which addressed topics such as waivers of inadmissibility, representing minors, and persuasive evidence in asylum cases. The panel entitled "Hot Topics in Asylum Law," moderated by Derek Julius, Senior Litigation Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation, featured speakers at the forefront of asylum law practice: Deborah Anker from the Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Clinic, Karen Musalo from the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at University of California Hastings College of Law, and Jon Bauer from the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law. As immigration attorneys continue to navigate the complicated space of asylum law, especially in connection with gang and domestic violence in Central and South America, it was an invaluable experience to be able to learn about creative and innovative ways in which practitioners around the country are addressing these cases. The panel had an in-depth discussion of the "nuclear family" as a "particular social group" and the recent brief published by the Department of Homeland Security in Matter of L-A-, a case in which in the Board of Immigration Appeals has asked for amicus briefs on the subject. With asylum seekers continuing their flight from persecution not only from Central and South America, but from all over the world, it is imperative that we as practitioners continue to evolve and challenge the status quo, and this panel was a prime testimony of the crusaders leading the charge.

Another highlight of the conference was the Keynote Speaker, Todd Miller, who is a writer on border and immigration issues for the North American Congress on Latin America, Report on Americas. Mr. Miller recently published his first book, Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security. His speech told the heart wrenching stories of the atrocities at the border, balanced with anecdotes of survival and perseverance. The striking photos and detailed accounts of life at the border had a profound impact on me and reinforced my passion for the field.

Overall, it was a very informative and thought-provoking few days in the beautiful city of New Orleans. I was able to meet and network with passionate lawyers from all over, including members of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Their unrelenting effort to represent the underserved immigration population of Louisiana is an inspiration. Finally, I am pleased that Youman, Madeo & Fasano has developed such a strong connection with the Federal Bar Association as it not only connects us with some of the brightest and cutting edge practitioners of immigration law, it puts us on the leading edge of the field, which in turn, allows us to provide our clients with the highest level of representation.

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