Rutgers Constitution Day Program Will Debate Immigration and Access To Higher Education

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Rutgers University, Newark, will examine issues of immigration and the effect on access to higher education for undocumented students at its eighth annual Constitution Day Program on Sept. 19.   Specifically, the debate topic will be “Whether the newly minted “deferred action” for immigrants who would qualify for deportation relief under Executive Order should include a corresponding right to establish legal residency under state law in order to apply for financial aid and to pay in-state tuition.

The program, which is free and open to the public, takes place from 2:30 p.m. – 1 p.m. in the Rutgers Center for Law and Justice, 123 Washington St., Newark, in the Nathan Baker Trial Courtroom. The program will start with arguments pro and con presented by the Rutgers Newark collegiate debate team (which recently placed 25th in the nation in forensic debate, beating Harvard and Cornell), followed by a respondents’ panel, including invited guests: Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, Marisol Conde-Hernandez (NJ DREAM Act Coalition), Iván Espinoza-Madrigal (Lambda Legal), Alex Shalom (ACLU), Jackie Vimo (New York Immigration Coalition), and immigration law attorney Masiel Valentin.

An audience Q & A will follow; Rutgers School of Law-Newark Vice Dean and Clinical Professor Ronald Chen, former New Jersey Public Advocate and ACLU Board member, will serve as moderator.

The first 100 attendees will receive a free copy of the U.S. Constitution in honor of the 225th anniversary of the document’s signing.

Constitution Day is an American federal observance that recognizes the completion of the drafting of the United States Constitution in 1787. The Constitution was adopted when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document the following year. The federal law establishing Constitution Day was created in 2004; previously it was known as "Citizenship Day." 

For more information on the Rutgers program: Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, or email:

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19, 2012, 2:30 p.m.

QUERY: whether the newly minted “deferred action” for immigrants who would qualify for deportation relief under Executive Order should include a corresponding right to establish legal residency under state law in order to apply for financial aid and to pay in-state tuition.
Opening:Marcia Brown, Vice Chancellor,  Office of Student and Community Affairs

Welcome: Philip Yeagle, Interim Chancellor                
Moderator: Ron Chen, Professor of Law, Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar
Debate Presentation: Rutgers Newark Collegiate Debate Team: Christopher R. Kozak, director; Elijah Smith; Carlos Astacio

Respondents Panel        

Audience Q & A


Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll represents New Jersey’s 25th Legislative District, covering Somerset and Morris counties. He has been in office for 16 years.  Carroll has served on numerous committees:  Judiciary and State Government, Health, Regulatory Oversight, Human Services, and Law and Public Safety.  At present, he sits on the Housing and Local Government and Higher Education Committees. For the past several sessions, Carroll has been one of the chief sponsors of a proposal to permit medical use of marijuana. He is a frequent guest of News 12's Power and Politics, has appeared on “Meet the Leaders,”The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity & Colmes, The Today Show, “Your New Jersey Connection,” “Neil Cavuto,” and similar shows. He is the first NJ Assemblyman to author a political blog.  His columns appear on a regular basis in the Morris County Daily Record. Assemblyman Carroll is a graduate of Delbarton School, Johns Hopkins University, and Rutgers School of Law–Newark.

Professor Ronald Chen, Vice Dean and Judge Leonard I. Garth Scholar in the Rutgers Newark Law School, was a former New Jersey Public Advocate in the cabinet of Governor Corzine.  In addition to aggressively representing the issues of taxpayers on such issues as disabilities, mental health services, and eminent domain, he was also named chair of Governor Corzine’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy, which was charged with making recommendations on how state government can best assist immigrants to integrate into the New Jersey community.

Prior to becoming the Public Advocate, Dean Chen was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the law school, with responsibility for overall academic and curricular operations and policy and with significant teaching responsibilities (i.e., contracts, federal courts, Mass Media Law and Church-State Relations).  Dean Chen continues litigating civil rights, civil liberties and constitutional law cases in state and federal courts and is an active lay leader of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) both locally and nationally and currently serves on the ACLU-NJ Legal Committee.

Dean Chen is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Rutgers School of Law–Newark.

Marisol Conde-Hernandez serves as Co-Founder & Professional Development Coordinator of the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition. A 2011 summa cum laude graduate from Rutgers University, she won the Dee Garrison Award for Peacekeeping and the Human Dignity Award, both citing her persistent activism for undocumented immigrant youth in New Jersey. Nicknamed the “face” of the DREAM Act and the NJ In-State Tuition Bill, Marisol has been featured in several media outlets and has spoken at over a hundred venues since 2005. A Leadership Tomorrow 2012 graduate and trained community organizer, Marisol aims to pursue a J.D. or Ph.D. for the 2013-2014 academic year to strengthen her pursuits for social justice.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal is a Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal, where he is developing an initiative on behalf of LGBT people of color and immigrants. In this capacity, he is addressing the legal needs of LGBT people who identify across intersecting lines of race, class and immigration status through litigation, education, and policy advocacy. Before joining Lambda Legal, he was a Staff Attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), where he served as counsel in Friendly House v. Whiting, a challenge to Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, and handled MALDEF’s immigrants’ rights docket in Texas and the Southwest. He was also a member of the legal team that successfully litigated Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, a landmark voting rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before  joining MALDEF, he worked with Fried Frank LLP.  At the firm, he successfully defended the municipal identification card of New Haven, Connecticut, against an attempt to dismantle the program. His work in New Haven had a direct impact on the  implementation of similar programs in cities across the country. Before joining the firm, he clerked for Judge Clay in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Judge Ellis in the U.S. District Court,  S.D.N.Y.  He received a JD from NYU School of Law, where he was a  Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, and a BA, summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. He serves on the Board of Directors of the HIV Law Project.

Alexander Shalom is Policy Counsel at the ACLU-NJ; in that role he handles litigation and policy work within the ACLU-NJ's racial justice issue areas including police practices, criminal justice policy, prison and jail conditions, voting rights, immigrant rights, and education.  Prior to working at the ACLU-NJ, he served as an assistant deputy public defender in Essex County where he represented the indigent accused from arrest to sentencing (and occasionally on appeal).  After graduating from New York University School of Law, Alex served as the capital cases clerk for the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Masiel Valentin is a seasoned immigration attorney.  She currently serves as the Director of Legal Services for IACO, Inc., a non-profit recognized and accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  A graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, Ms. Valentin first practiced immigration law as a student at the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic of Seton Hall’s Center for Social Justice. As a clinic student, she successfully obtained asylum for a Sudanese national due to persecution based sexual orientation.

Jackie Vimo is the Director of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella organization for almost 200 organizations that work with immigrants across New York State.  Jackie has been working for over 15 years in the field of public policy on a broad range of issues, including:  HIV/AIDS, public health, public assistance, LGBTQ issues, housing, workers’ rights, racial justice, and immigration.  Jackie has done work in Argentina, where her family lives, and has held positions in New York and San Francisco social justice organizations such as Make the Road New York and The New York AIDS Coalition.  Jackie has been the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Commission on the Public’s Health System and the New York Peer AIDS Education Coalition and has served as a member of the Board of Directors and the Community Funding Board of the North Star Fund.  Jackie also teaches in the Political Science Departments at the City College of New York and the New School University.  Jackie received a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley.  She is currently a Ph.D. candidate writing a doctoral dissertation in the Politics Department at the New School for Social Research.

Dr. Philip L. Yeagle is the interim chancellor and chief executive officer for Rutgers-Newark, which includes seven undergraduate and graduate colleges, 12,000 students, 500 full time faculty and 1100 staff.  Prior to being appointed interim chancellor in December 2011, Yeagle served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Newark (FASN), which includes the Newark College of Arts and Sciences (NCAS), the Honors College, and University College, which together enroll 60 percent of Rutgers–Newark's undergraduate students. Under Yeagle, FASN developed a new academic plan that became the basis for increased external funding, greater diversity among the faculty, improved student advising, renewed strength in scientific research, and a new undergraduate curriculum.

Before joining Rutgers in 2007, Yeagle spent 10 years as professor and head of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. He also held visiting professorships at the University of Oxford, England, in 2003 and 1993.  From 1978-1997 he was on the faculty of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo. Dr. Yeagle has authored seven books and more than 150 articles. He was executive editor of the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Biomembranes and served on the editorial board of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Yeagle received his doctoral degree from Duke University in 1974 and his bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College in 1971, where he graduated magna cum laude in chemistry.