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Defending Immigration Removal Proceedings 2013

Speaker(s): Camille Mackler, Cheryl David, Cristina M. Velez, Cyrus D. Mehta, Deborah Lee, Gabriel Videla, Hon. Randa Zagzoug, Julie E. Dinnerstein, Jun H. Lee, Lori Adams, Mark R. von Sternberg, Matthew L. Guadagno, Michael P. DiRaimondo, Parisa Karaahmet, Patrick Shen, Shalyn N. Fluharty, Victoria Neilson
Recorded on: Aug. 12, 2013
PLI Program #: 43031

Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, is the Managing Partner of Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of AILA’s Ethics Committee overseeing the publication of the multi-volume AILA Ethics Compendium. Mr. Mehta is on the editorial board of the AILA Law Journal and Bender’s Immigration Bulletin. He is a board member of The New York Immigration Coalition and a board member of Volunteers of Legal Services. He is also special counsel on immigration matters to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

Mr. Mehta was formerly a member of AILA’s Administrative Litigation Task Force; AILA’s FOIA Strategy Committee; AILA’ s EB-5 Committee, former chair AILA’s Ethics Committee; former chair of AILA’s Pro Bono Committee, former chair of AILA’s New Member Division, former chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council and former chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law of the New York City Bar and Secretary of the New York City Bar. Mr. Mehta is the former chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council and former chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law of the New York City Bar Association. 

He is a frequent speaker and writer on various immigration-related issues, including on ethics, and is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, where he teaches a course entitled Immigration and Work. Mr. Mehta received the AILA 2018 Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for advancing the practice of immigration law and the AILA 2011 Michael Maggio Memorial Award for his outstanding efforts in providing pro bono representation in the immigration field. He has also received three AILA Presidential Commendations in 2010, 2016 and 2020. Mr. Mehta is ranked highly by Who’s Who Legal – Corporate Immigration Law 2021 and also by Chambers USA and Chambers Global 2021 in immigration law, among other rankings. 



  • 1978 Juris Doctor, Northwestern University, School of Law, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1975 Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois


  • 1994 to present, Immigration Judge, U.S. Immigration Court, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice.
  • 1981 to 1994, engaged in private practice concentrated in Immigration Law, Gabriel C. Videla & Associates, Chicago, Illinois.
  • 1978 to 1981, associate attorney in law firm concentrating in immigration law, William N. Siebert & Associates, Chicago, Illinois.


  • 2006- present, City University of New York (CUNY), asst. adjunct professor, School of Professional Studies, New York, New York
  • 1997 to present, biannual training for pro bono counsel to represent asylum applicants before the Asylum Office and Immigration Court, sponsored by the Community Outreach Program of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, New York New York
  • 1998 to 2002, guest lecturer in the Immigration Law class, Fordham University, School, Law, New York, New York
  • 1980 to 1994, member, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Greater Chicago Chapter, Chicago, Illinois (held position of Chapter Secretary from 1993 to 1994)
  • 1982 to 1994, advisory board member, Midwest Immigrant Rights Center, Chicago, Illinois

Hon. Randa Zagzoug has 20 years of immigration experience. She has been an Immigration Judge since April of 2010. She is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law where she received a J.D. with honors in 1990. She was an Asylum Officer for 3 years at the Newark Asylum Office, then became a Supervisory Asylum Officer for approximately 2 years, during which time she served as the Acting Director for a lengthy period of time.  

In 1995, she left the Asylum Corps to work at the Office of the INS District Counsel (ODC) in New York City, first as an Assistant District Counsel, then as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. Judge Zagzoug served as Deputy Chief Counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from November 2001 to April 2010. In addition to directly supervising over 14 attorneys, she conducted and jointly managed all attorney and staff training at the OCC in NYC. Among the many honors Judge Zagzoug has received, she was the recipient of the INS Attorney of the Year Award. She has given numerous presentations on immigration law both with ICE as a faculty member of the Trial Advocacy Training Program, and at various national conferences on a variety of issues particularly protection law issues such as asylum confidentiality and credibility issues. Judge Zagzoug has lectured on immigration before the Federal Bar Association, the Practising Law Institute, AILA, various law schools including Columbia, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Yale and Harvard.  She is most pleased to be a member of the New York Immigration Court.

Camille J. Mackler, Esq. is the Director of Legal Initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, where she works with NYIC members and a variety of stakeholders on issues relating to immigration law in New York. Before joining the NYIC in March 2013, Ms. Mackler worked in private practice representing immigrants before US Immigration Courts and Federal Courts of Appeals. She focused primarily on asylum and refugee, deportation proceedings, immigration detention, and family-based immigration issues. 

Ms. Mackler is currently the co-chair of the Media and Advocacy committee for the NY Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She has a Juris Doctor. from New York Law School and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is also a frequent lecturer on immigration law and advocacy issues surrounding the practice of immigration law.

Cheryl R. David has been practicing immigration law since 1995.  She handles all aspects of immigration law with an emphasis on removal and family-based cases.  Prior to opening her own practice she was an associate for five years at Bretz & Coven, LLP where her main area of concentration was deportation defense of individuals with criminal convictions.  She is a frequent lecturer on issues related to removal and complicated family based cases.  She is the Chair for AILA of the Removal Defense Steering Committee and she serves on the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service Headquarters committee for AILA.  She currently is on the Board of Directors of Asista.  Previously she served on Department of State national committee of AILA from 2018-2020.  Some of her additional past positions and membership include:  Co-Chair, NY-AILA  ICE committee; Member, AILA ICE National Committee, 2016-18; Director, American Immigration Lawyers Association Board of Governors, 2007-2013; Member, Board of Directors of the City Bar Fund of New York – 2007-2013; Chair, National Liaison Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Executive Office for Immigration Review, 2010-2012; Chair, National Liaison Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), 2007-2010, Chair, AILA NY ICE - Detention & Removal Committee, 2007-2009; Chair and Founder, NY AILA Chapter of the juvenile pro-bono committee with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, 2007-2009; Member, Immigration & Nationality Committee of the City Bar, 2008-2011 Co-Chair, NY AILA Chapter Pro Bono Committee -2007-2009. 

Deborah Lee is the Deputy Attorney-in-Charge within the Immigration Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society, where she helps manage the legal representation of a wide-range of immigrants before U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  Prior to joining The Legal Aid Society, Deborah Lee was a Senior Staff Attorney with Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, where she represented foreign-born victims of domestic violence, trafficking and gender violence.  Her previous experience includes serving as Supervising Attorney for the Children’s Legal Project at Americans for Immigrant Justice (previously known as Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center) and a Jesuit Refugee Service Fellow with Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).  Ms. Lee frequently trains and writes on immigration legal remedies for vulnerable populations.  She has published articles in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Immigration & Nationality Handbook, as well as a practice advisory with AILA on immigrant youth issues.  Ms. Lee is a graduate of Swarthmore College, Harvard Divinity School, and Georgetown University Law Center. 

Lori Adams is the Director of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families.  She represents asylum seekers before the immigration courts and in the asylum offices, leads the organizations advocacy efforts on behalf of immigrant survivors of gender-based harm, mentors pro bono counsel, and oversees a team of immigration attorneys and advocates who assist foreign-born survivors of gender violence. The team and the pro bono counsel she supports provide the full spectrum of immigration applications and defenses for which clients and their families are eligible, including asylum applications, U-Visas, T-Visas, humanitarian waiver applications, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions, applications for Special Immigration Juvenile Status, DACA, cancellation of removal, and naturalization.

Before joining Sanctuary for Families, she was the Managing Attorney in Refugee Representation at Human Rights First, where she oversaw the pro bono legal representation of indigent asylum seekers. In that capacity, she provided support to volunteer lawyers from law firms in New York and New Jersey who represent asylum seekers at all levels of the system. She also provided information and legal services to asylum seekers in immigration detention, and helped to coordinate their legal representation.  Human Rights First opened an office in Houston, Texas in the spring of 2014 and she oversaw the pro bono legal representation of indigent asylum seekers in that area too. 

Ms. Adams is a member of Study Group on Immigrant Representation, launched by Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which aims to increase high-quality pro bono representation of asylum seekers and otherwise address the unmet legal needs of the immigrant poor. She is also a member of the Working Group on Immigrant Representation, led by Judge Michael A. Chagares of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which has similar aims in New Jersey.  Ms. Adams is a frequent speaker on immigration-related topics and a co-author of a report on the negative impact of the one-year filing deadline in asylum cases.  

Before joining Human Rights First, Ms. Adams was the attorney advisor in the New York Immigration Court, where she drafted decisions for twenty-eight immigration judges and supervised the work of the court’s law clerks and interns. She also worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and for the Honorable Deborah A. Batts in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Ms. Adams has a philosophy degree from the University of Oregon and a law degree from New York Law School. She is on the Advisory Council of the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association, is a member of the I-ARC (Immigrant Active Response Collaborative) steering committee, a member of the Asylum Working Group, and member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  She is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.

Matthew L. Guadagno has been practicing immigration law since 1997.  He is a solo practitioner in Manhattan.  Mr. Guadagno’s practice focuses on deportation defense and federal litigation relating to immigration.  He has argued numerous cases in the federal courts that have resulted in precedent decisions.  He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the past, Mr. Guadagno has served on the Amicus Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, the Advisory Committee to the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council, and the Advisory Committee to the Immigration Unit of Brooklyn Defenders.  In September 2019, Mr. Guadagno was listed in the New York Metro Edition of the publication Super Lawyers for the eleventh year in a row.  He is also AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.  Mr. Guadagno regularly speaks at continuing legal education courses about immigration law.  Mr. Guadagno is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School where he teaches a course on deportation defense that he created. 

Michael P. DiRaimondo of DiRaimondo & Masi LLP has been in private practice since 1986.  His firm specializing in all types of immigration matters, deportation cases, appeals to BIA and Federal courts.

Prior to going into private practice, he was a Special Assistant US Attorney in the US Attorneys office for the Education Department for the State of New York from 1983 – 1986.

Mike also worked as a Trial Attorney for the Immigration & Naturalization Service for 3 years after graduating from Antioch University School of Law in 1980.

Parisa is a Partner at Fragomen’s New York office, where she leads a team that focuses on individual and complex immigration matters and manages corporate accounts. Parisa also is a member of the firm’s Global Executive Committee.

On the corporate compliance advisory group side, Parisa represents a variety of large, mid-size and smaller companies in their immigration matters, including those in the financial services, medical, pharmaceutical, academic, retail and technology sectors.

Prior to joining Fragomen, Parisa served as an Assistant District Counsel and Acting Deputy District Counsel for the Immigration & Naturalization Service, New York District.

Parisa has provided immigration advice and guidance on a pro bono basis to a number of organizations and individuals, including Human Rights First and DACA recipients, among others.

Parisa also speaks at international and national conferences on a variety of immigration topics, including those sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA), Practising Law Institute (PLI), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), IIUSA (Invest in the USA) and EB5 Investors Magazine.

Parisa speaks English, Farsi, and French.

Patrick is a partner in Fragomen's Government Strategies and Corporate Compliance Group. In this capacity, he works with U.S. and multinational clients to maintain compliant immigration programs.

Prior to rejoining Fragomen, Patrick was appointed by the President and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate as Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He also served as Policy and Planning Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security, and Chief Immigration Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier in his career, Patrick spent several years as an immigration litigator for the Justice Department, having served as Assistant District Counsel of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and a trial lawyer in the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY and the Justice Department in Washington, DC, representing INS and other agencies in federal courts. He also had a stint in private practice as Director of Government Relations for Fragomen prior to his presidential appointment.

Patrick is a volunteer with his local fire department in Maryland. He was an adjunct professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, and a sports reporter in Taiwan before returning to the United States to attend law school.

Patrick speaks English and Mandarin Chinese.


Shalyn Fluharty is a Staff Attorney with the Catholic Charities Community Services Unaccompanied Minors Program in New York.  Ms. Fluharty received a JD from the University of California, Davis, a BA from Southern Methodist University, and a Masters in Teaching from Dominican University. Ms. Fluharty represents unaccompanied immigrant children before the Executive Office of Immigration Review and assists children who are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in New York Family Court. Ms. Fluharty first joined Catholic Charities as an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by McDermott Will and Emery. Before joining Catholic Charities, Ms. Fluharty worked at the Sacramento County Office of the Public Defender and as the Teen Program Director for Camp Mendocino, a Program of the Boy and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. Prior to law school, Ms. Fluharty spent two years teaching Spanish in Chicago, IL at Harper High School as a Corps Member with Teach for America. 

I graduated with a B.A. from Cornell University majoring in Government with concentration in International Relations.  Graduated with a J.D. from Syracuse University School of Law.   I am admitted in the State if New York, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. 

I have been a Staff Attorney with the Attorney Grievance Committee since 2001.  I am presently a Principal Staff Attorney investigating and prosecuting professional misconduct by attorneys in the First Department where allegations vary from neglect of legal matters to escrow violations.  In addition, I have been designated to oversee the investigation of complaints filed against attorneys practicing in the area of immigration law.  I am a member of the Katzman Study Group as well as a member of the Protecting Immigrants New York Task Force.

Victoria Neilson is managing attorney of the Defending Vulnerable Populations Program at Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). She is the former legal director of Immigrant Justice Corps and Immigration Equality, where her practice focused on the intersection of LGBT issues and immigration law.  Ms. Neilson has also worked for the Office of Chief Counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the New York Asylum Office and is the former legal director of the HIV Law Project. She has taught as an adjunct professor at City University of New York School of Law and at New York University School of Law.  She is the co-chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) National Asylum Committee and the former chair of the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. She is a former member of AILA’s National Ethics Committee and the former co-chair of AILA New York’s Ethics Committee. She is a co-author of AILA’s Representing Clients in Immigration Court. Ms. Neilson received her J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law and her B.A. from Harvard University.

Cristina Velez has practiced immigration law in New York City for more than a decade and currently works as an attorney and consultant.  She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Cornell Law School.  Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Denny Chin, then of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. From 2007-2017 she worked at the HIV Law Project, where she supervised the representation of HIV-positive immigrants seeking asylum, permanent residence, naturalization, VAWA/U visas, and relief from removal. Ms. Velez received the 2013 Cornell Law School Alumni Exemplary Public Service Award.  Ms. Velez has authored articles regarding the intersection of HIV and immigration law for various publications including the CUNY Law Review.

Julie E. Dinnerstein is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School where she served as an editor on the Columbia Law Review.  Prior to opening a private practice, Julie worked at Sanctuary for Families for over fifteen years where she helped to develop the Immigration Intervention Project’s team of attorneys and paralegals from a department of one (herself) to a thriving four-borough practice with over fifteen full-time staff members representing immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and related gender-based harms in a variety of immigration matters.  In addition to her private practice, Julie works with the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now project where she continues to serve low income New Yorkers.  Julie's past experience includes working at the New York Immigration Coalition and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and clerking for the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein.  She has written extensively on immigration options for immigrant victims of domestic violence.

Mark R. von Sternberg is a Senior Attorney with Catholic Charities Community Services/Archdiocese of New York where he concentrates on litigation before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Mr. von Sternberg serves as an adjunct faculty member at Pace University School of Law where he teaches general immigration and comparative refugee law; he is also an adjunct faculty member at St. John’s University School of Law where he teaches an immigrant and refugee rights clinic. Mr. von Sternberg received a J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1973 and an LL.M. degree (in International Legal Studies) from New York University School of Law in 1984. He has lectured at law schools and at professional associations regarding immigration matters and has written extensively, particularly in the areas of refugee law, international humanitarian law, and human rights. Mr. von Sternberg is the author of an internationally recognized treatise regarding the refugee definition as applied in the United States and Canada. In 2002, he received the American Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Award. Mr. von Sternberg is a former chair of the American Bar Association’s Immigration and Naturalization Committee and of the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee. Mr. von Sternberg has served as an active participant in significant international conferences regarding asylum such as the Refugee Rights and Realities Conference in Nottingham, England and, more recently (September 2012), the UNHCR's Expert Roundtable on "International Protection for Persons Fleeing Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence" in Cape Town, South Africa.