This is the twelfth installment of the themed series on Border Criminologies network members. The series aims to present our members’ ongoing research, recent publications, new course modules they might be developing, grants and awards, partnerships and collaborations, and questions they have been considering or struggling with.

Post by Juliet Stumpf, Robert E. Jones Professor of Advocacy and Ethics, Lewis and Clark Law School.

My recent research, collaborative work, and innovations in the classroom have all focused on transformation of law, with plenty of applications to crimmigration law. Two articles are in process to be submitted for publication, co-authored with Stephen Manning who directs the Innovation Law Lab. The first, ‘Liminal Immigration Law,’ explores how immigrant advocacy and agency innovations are creating a new currency of ‘law’ that operates beyond the edge of traditional law.  Here’s a tidbit from the draft abstract:

The article examines how pressures for legal change have resulted in structures and processes that operate as law but are instead law-like, or liminal.  Liminal law consists of rules that operate apart from traditional forms of law like statutes, regulations, or opinions, but have the same or similar effect.  Because of their liminal nature, they lead a precarious existence and are often in transition, tending either toward codification or toward extinction.  They are, nonetheless, surprisingly sticky.  The article uses as examples the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the mandatory immigration detainer, describing how they each operate as liminal law.

We also plan to publish ‘Big Immigration Law,’ an exploration of innovation in legal advocacy that lead to transformation in immigration law. Our work is inspired by the advocacy around the detention of Central American mothers and their children fleeing hyper-violence in the Northern Triangle to seek asylum in the United States. The article examines how new structures in immigration law advocacy that seek to equalize the imbalance in enforcement power between government and noncitizen are shaping the legal issues surrounding family detention. The article will trace the contours of this new approach to advocacy, articulate its defining features, and reflect on its implications for transforming law.

Both articles arose from our collaboration around the Transformative Immigration Law Seminar that we co-teach at Lewis & Clark Law School and which has focused each year on themes and advocacy surrounding immigration detention. This year our students drafted three amicus briefs addressing the definition of a ‘particular social group,’ one of the protected classes of asylum seekers.  The larger purpose of the briefs was to model an empirical approach to gang-based and domestic violence-based asylum claims. Our course materials include our colleagues: we bring academics, social scientists, judges, lawyers, and organizers into the classroom via videoconference for a packed 20-minute conversation exploring the speaker’s contribution to transformation in law. 

In the past year, two articles have appeared as part of two symposia with connections to border criminology. The first, ‘D(e)volving Discretion: Lessons from the Life and Times of Secure Communities,’ appears in the American University Law Review as part of a symposium on The Boundaries of Executive Discretion. The most recent piece, ‘Looking for Wrongs in All the Right Places,’ appeared in the New England Journal on Civil and Criminal Confinement. It offers the US Supreme Court case of Padilla v. Kentucky as a model of a counter-intuitive approach to recognition of rights for immigrants. Rather than seeking to sow a right to counsel in the contested field of immigration law, Padilla recognized a right to deportation counsel in the criminal justice system where appointed counsel was already well-rooted, and where tendrils of that right reach into the neighboring field of deportation law. The essay concludes with examples of this model of relocating rights claims to more fertile fields outside of immigration law, in ways that resonate liminally in immigration law.

Two other occurrences will support and inspire my research and teaching: I was honored to learn that Lewis & Clark Law School had selected me as the Robert E. Jones Professor of Advocacy and Ethics, and that the graduating class had voted to confer on me the Leo Levenson Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style):

Stumpf, J. (2016) Research Update: Juliet Stumpf. Available at: (Accessed [date]).