W&L Law Professor David Baluarte Awarded Fulbright to Develop Clinical Programs in Mexico Baluarte will teach in the Refugee Law Clinic and assist in the development of clinical legal education more broadly at Iberoamericana University.
Washington and Lee law professor David Baluarte has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant that will take him to Iberoamericana University (IBERO) in Mexico City, where he will teach in the Refugee Law Clinic and assist in the development of clinical legal education more broadly at the University.
The Refugee Law Clinic at IBERO is a sub-contractor for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and provides legal services to asylum seekers in Mexico. Baluarte notes that many of the asylum seekers that the clinic encounters around Mexico City intend to travel on to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek protection in the United States.
“Those asylum seekers need up-to-date, reliable information about what awaits them on the U.S. side of the border to decide whether to pursue protection in Mexico or continue to the United States,” said Baluarte.
The Refugee Law Clinic currently lacks expertise in U.S. asylum law, and Baluarte will develop an educational module on U.S. asylum law for the clinic while in residence. This project will initiate an ongoing transnational collaboration between the Refugee Rights Clinic at IBERO and the W&L Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, which Baluarte directs.
In addition to his work with the Refugee Law Clinic, Baluarte will apply his expertise in experiential education to further develop the program of clinical legal education at IBERO. While clinics are a standard feature of modern legal education in the U.S., they have yet to gain widespread institutional traction in Mexico. However, IBERO has recently become the first university in Mexico to require that all law students spend a semester in a clinic before graduation.
Baluarte will also undertake a research project while in Mexico to examine how Mexican immigration law is responding to and interacting with the many changes in U.S. policy toward migration in Mexico.
“Since the Mexican Migratory Act passed into law in 2011, three successive U.S. Administrations have developed and redefined drastic U.S. policies towards migration in Mexico,” said Baluarte. “It is well documented that the United States has both supported an expansion of immigration enforcement on the Mexico-Guatemala border and refused to admit asylum seekers through the U.S.-Mexico border, compelling them instead to ‘remain in Mexico.’ These and other externalized U.S. immigration enforcement policies have likely impacted the interpretation and application of the 2011 Migratory Act and the associated legal regime for the protection of refugees.”
Baluarte is one of approximately 500 faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2023-2024. This is his second research Fulbright. In 2016 he was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to study the stateless population in Argentina.
Baluarte teaches and writes about topics ranging from immigration, refugees and stateless persons, and transnational law with a specific focus on international human rights law and practice. He is a member of the advisory council of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to promoting an integrated, human rights based response to the injustice of statelessness and exclusion. He is also a member of the steering committee of the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness, a network of civil society organizations and individual experts committed to address statelessness in the Americas.
Before coming to W&L, Professor Baluarte was a Practitioner-in-Residence and Arbenz Fellow in the International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) at American University Washington College of Law. In addition to his clinical teaching responsibilities in that capacity, Professor Baluarte managed projects and consulted for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI).
Before beginning his teaching career, Professor Baluarte served as a staff attorney in the Immigration Unit the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as a staff attorney at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). Professor Baluarte earned his J.D. from American University Washington College of Law, where he was a Public Interest and Public Service (PIPS) Scholar, and his B.A. from Brown University.
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