Post by Juliet Stumpf, Professor of Law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. This post is the first installment of the Border Criminologies Themed Week on Teaching Immigration Detention organised by Juliet. 

Border Criminologies has always served as a critical venue for the products of the classroom and the fieldstudent and faculty research and writing. This spring it took on a new role: it became the classroom. More precisely, it served as the platform for a pedagogical experiment in which the private sphere of the classroom and the public space of the blog merged for twelve students studying US family detention law in a seminar at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Image: Malate269 via Wikimedia Commons
I co-taught the Transformative Immigration Law Seminar with Stephen Manning, an adjunct professor and immigration advocate. The class combined traditional academic study with real-life engagement in legal change by drafting amicus briefs, writing scholarly articles, and drafting practice advisories or policy briefs, documents that serve as vehicles for shaping legal rules and administrative policyto initiate transformation in a legal regime. The class also explored how nontraditional legal authority such as social science research and scholarship contributes to change in legal regimes. The Border Criminologies blog offered law students the rare opportunity to directly connect fresh social science research with legal advocacy by drafting their own blog posts. At the same time, they were creating authority―the blog posts themselves―that could be cited by other scholars and advocates.

The blog posts were particularly challenging because they required the students to apply field research to the ever-shifting, complex legal landscape of family detention. Unlike the traditional tools of legal communication such as briefs, memos, or practice advisories, blog posts lack an established structure and offer a spectrum of topic choices. 

One intrepid pair, Shannon Garcia and Nora Coon, took on co-authorship of this series of blog posts. Their job was to evaluate whether empirical research might shed light on legal issues central to advocacy surrounding family detention. The first post that follows this introduction gives an overview of family detention and the credible fear process in the US. The second post explores the effect that counsel, or lack thereof, has had on outcomes in family detention cases and analyzes provision of counsel under the US Constitution’s due process clause. The third post addresses the intersection of racialization and family detention. Together, these posts highlight the utility of empirical research for those who drive legal change, and invite further academic work on this topic.

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style)

Stumpf, J. (2015) At the Border of the Classroom. Available at: (Accessed [date]).