SLU LAW Addresses Legal Issues Surrounding Immigration Executive Order

February 23, 2017

President Trump’s controversial executive order announced on Jan. 27 has presented complex legal questions about how it is to be applied and about its constitutionality.

Saint Louis University School of Law has hosted a number of relevant presentations in the weeks since, each with a unique perspective and focus.

  • The Justice and Equity Collaborative (JEC) mobilized quickly and hosted a panel discussion on Jan. 31, “Resisting Recent Executive Orders on Immigration and Refugees,” to a packed room. The panel featured Prof. Richard Middleton, who teaches a course in immigration law and has his own solo practice; Robert West, a SLU LAW alumnus and staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Missouri); and Jessie Chappell, an attorney specializing in immigration law. They provided their interpretations of the EO’s scope and effects, along with suggestions of how to help immigrants at the local level.
  • The International Law Students’ Association (ILSA) welcomed immigration attorney Raymond Bolourtchi (’95) on Feb. 14, for “Immigration Consequences from Criminal Convictions.” Bolourtchi discussed the legal complications involved when undocumented and legal immigrants commit crimes and are released from prison after serving a sentence. He also touched on ethical dilemmas that arise when working in immigration law.
  • On Feb. 15, the American Constitution Society sponsored “Executive Branch Authority and Limitations under the Constitution,” featuring Professor Joel Goldstein and Professor Gregory Willard, who are experts in the vice presidency and presidency, respectively. They talked about what actions the president has the legal authority to take. They emphasized that during the past 70 years, Congress has abdicated much of its law-making powers to the executive branch.

In addition to these presentations, SLU LAW Dean William P. Johnson issued a message to members of the law school community expressing his solidarity with immigrants and international students, while exhorting readers to deepen their understandings of other countries’ histories and cultural contexts in order to better engage the world. He also reminded the law school students, staff, faculty and alumni that lawyers and students of the law have an important role to play in discerning and responding to these documents.

Most importantly, the School of Law is preparing to host a day-long conference on Monday, Feb. 27, titled “Understanding How the Executive Orders Have Impacted Our Immigrant Neighbors – Part I.” The event is co-sponsored by SLU LAW, Saint Louis University and St. Francis Community Services: Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry and Southside Center. The event is free to all who attend, and students, lawyers and other professionals are welcome at any point during the day, though pre-registration is required. For questions or to register, contact Elizabeth Sheehan at

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