NYLS Finishes Second in National Immigration Law Competition

three female new york law school students pose in steifel room

Left to right: Olivia Robertson 3L, Kelly Burke 3L, and Danney Salvatierra.

A powerhouse team of Danney Salvatierra 3L and Kelly Burke 3L, coached by Olivia Robertson 3L, took second place in New York University’s National Immigration Law Competition on February 3.

In addition, Burke was named Best Oralist of the final round.

To finish second, the NYLS team fought off competition from among 33 other law schools—including Georgetown, Columbia, and the University of Virginia. They faced Barry University in the final round.

Judges included distinguished immigration law practitioners and, in the final round, federal appellate and district court judges.

The fact pattern involved a female legal permanent resident who was facing removal from the United States after being convicted of two crimes involving moral turpitude. The NYLS team argued compellingly that the defendant had been deprived of due process during her immigration proceedings and that one of her alleged crimes did not, in fact, constitute moral turpitude.

“I enjoyed arguing a due process issue within this context, given how fairness and good representation—at times, any representation—is highly needed in immigration court,” Salvatierra said.

Burke noted, “We couldn’t have done this without the support of the Moot Court Association, our NYLS professors, and the NYLS alumni who took the time to help.”

“I was happy to coach the team,” said Robertson. “Good teamwork is the key to success.”

Adjunct Professor Ann Schofield Baker, the Moot Court Association’s new Faculty Advisor, said, “Our team was remarkably well prepared thanks to their hard work and determination. They received expert coaching in practice sessions with our experienced immigration law faculty and alumni, and that kind of feedback helps bring our competitors to the next level.”

Professor Baker and the team expressed their gratitude to Professors Susan AbrahamLenni Benson, and Claire Thomas ’11, as well as alum John Ryan ’83, an immigration lawyer, for mooting the team.

Salvatierra is co-author of the fact pattern for NYLS’s Robert F. Wagner National Labor and Employment Law Moot Court Competition, a national event held at the School every spring. In addition, Salvatierra is Vice President of NYLS’s Immigration Law Students Association and is interning at Human Rights First. Burke is Co-Chair of the Wagner Competition and is interning at the Safe Passage Project, a nonprofit founded by Professor Benson that provides free legal representation to unaccompanied children and teenagers and is housed at NYLS.