University of Pittsburgh

"The Immigration Debate in 2010 – The Federal and State Power Struggle for Balance in America’s Immigration Policy"

The Edgar M. Snyder Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program
Michael J. Wishnie, Clinical Professor of Law, Yale Law School
October 21, 2010 - 12:00am1:00pm
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
3900 Forbes Avenue Room 107
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


If you plan to attend the post-lecture luncheon, your reservation is needed by October 14. Please call or email 412-648-1305 or email

About Our Speaker: Michael J. Wishnie

Michael J. Wishnie

The struggle for immigrant rights is one of the great civil rights movements of the first part of the 21st century. It is a movement that has roiled politics at the federal, state, and local levels, eliciting powerful emotions and sharp disagreements. In the absence of meaningful federal reform, communities across the country have implemented wildly divergent government responses that range from inclusionary and integrationist to exclusionary and punitive. Too often missing from the policy and legal debates, however, has been an ethic of proportionality, a notion that deportation, which earlier this year the Supreme Court characterized as “punishment,” is a severe sanction that should be reserved only for those truly deserving of its consequences.

While in recent years, a commitment to proportionality has driven important Supreme Court decisions in capital punishment and juvenile justice, immigration law has remained largely immune, doctrinally and theoretically. Professor Wishnie will examine the current debate regarding appropriate state and local roles in immigration enforcement and policy-making and consider how an ethic of proportionality, familiar from the criminal law context, might inform our understanding of the current controversies.

Mr. Wishnie is Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School. From 1998-2006, he taught at New York University School of Law. Professor Wishnie’s teaching, scholarship, and law practice have focused on immigration, labor and employment, habeas corpus, civil rights, and administrative law. For years, Professor Wishnie and his students have represented grassroots organizations in a range of legislative, media, and community education matters. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow of the Migration Policy Institute and frequently handles litigation matters as a cooperating attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1993.

About Edgar and Sandy Snyder

Edgar and Sandy Snyder

Edgar Snyder is a 1966 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Anyone who lives in western Pennsylvania will likely recognize him as the injury lawyer who points and says: “There’s never a fee unless we get money for you!”

Attorney Snyder worked as a Public Defender before opening his first office in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. In 1982, he married Sandy, who had just earned her MBA in marketing. With their combined expertise, their business flourished. Today, Edgar Snyder & Associates has offices in Altoona, Ebensburg, Erie, Johnstown and Pittsburgh, and employs over 130 staff members. The law firm has represented over 30,000 people seriously injured in all types of accidents, and has provided more than 350,000 free legal evaluations.

Edgar and Sandy are passionate about giving back to the community. They have been the driving force behind the law firm’s involvement in battling drunk driving and underage drinking. Because Edgar Snyder & Associates represent victims of alcohol-related accidents, they have invested significant resources in “Don’t Drink and Drive” media campaigns. They also sponsor such programs as providing free cab rides to partygoers on New Year’s Eve.

To make an impact on younger generations, the Snyders led their law firm to team up with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to present Road Radio USA, an innovative program geared to prevent underage drinking among middle-school students. The law firm also sponsors a college scholarship contest, asking high school seniors to present ideas to prevent underage drinking and drunk driving among their peers.

In honor of their personal volunteer and philanthropic endeavors, the Snyders received the PNC Community Builders Award. Major projects include Operation Promise, a program that provides relief efforts for Jews in Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. They have also created a similar program to help members of Allegheny County’s Jewish community. In addition, they support and participate in a myriad of other charitable programs.

CLE Information

Cost for CLE Credit: $25. Pay at the door with a check made payable to University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
No pre-registration is required.

This course has been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for one (1) hour of ethics credit. For further information regarding the CLE, call 412-648-1305.

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