Immigration law and reform brings alumni back to campus

Brandon, Nyasa and Judge Weisel-3-2
Nyasa Hickey ’06 (English and Black Studies), Judge Robert D. Weisel ’73 (Political Science) Brandon Waterman ’06 (Political Science)

Immigration is a hot-button national issue that brought three alumni back to campus on April 25 for the program “Immigration and the U.S. Legal System: The Judge, The Prosecutor and the Advocate.”

Brandon Waterman ’06 (Political Science), Nyasa Hickey ’06 (English and Black Studies), and Judge Robert D. Weisel ’73 (Political Science) shared their expertise on this important topic to a crowd of faculty, staff and students.

The discussion included how the legal process works in immigration cases and the functions and responsibilities of the panelists’ specific positions. Hickey, a staff lawyer for Brooklyn Defender Services, has worked in Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S.; Waterman serves as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice; and Weisel serves as Assistant Chief Immigration Judge for the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Forums such as this one contributed to my education at New Paltz and significantly shaped my career path after graduation,” said Hickey. “Immigrant communities are woven into the fabric of our society. We all know friends, family members or colleagues who are immigrants. Immigration policy affects not only our most vulnerable in society but also those with the most power. I think it is an issue relevant to almost any job that students may pursue after graduation.”

The discussion was hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations, the Department of Political Science/International Relations, the Center for International Programs, and the Honors Program.

“As New Paltz alums, all three had stories about how their New Paltz experiences were instrumental in paving the way for their future careers,” said event organizer and Professor of Political Science Nancy Kassop. “The audience learned much about how the federal immigration courts in New York City work – from the separate vantage points of a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a chief immigration judge. Many in the audience were current students interested in legal careers and this session provided them with a fascinating look at possible avenues to take.”