AILA Presents Kenneth Schmitt with the 2012 Advocacy Award

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12061454 (posted Jun. 14, 2012)"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 14, 2012
George Tzamaras or Belle Woods
202-507-7649 - 202-507-7675
gtzamaras@aila.org - bwoods@aila.org

NASHVILLE, TN - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will award Kenneth (Ken) Schmitt with the 2012 Advocacy Award for his outstanding efforts in support of AILA's legislative agenda. He will receive the award today during AILA's Annual Conference in Nashville, TN.

As an attorney with US Legal Solutions LLC in St. Louis, Missouri, and Chair of the local Missouri-Kansas AILA Chapter, Mr. Schmitt has actively worked to ensure the best for both the local immigration attorneys and the clients they represent. He has a clear, consistent voice that brings a vital perspective to his state's ongoing debate regarding immigration and he has advocated tirelessly for the immigrant community's rights.

Throughout his career, Mr. Schmitt has vigorously entered the public debate on immigration issues through lobbying before the Missouri Legislature and testifying before legislative committees against anti-immigrant legislation. In 2010, right after Arizona passed its notorious SB1070 and after members of the Missouri House of Representatives flirted with similar legislation, he led a coalition of immigration advocates to successfully convince the President of the St. Louis Board of Alderman (City Council) and Alderman Craig Schmid to pass its own Resolution urging the Missouri Legislature not to follow Arizona's horrible lead. This St. Louis City Resolution was adopted unanimously.

In 2007, after noticing a pattern of traffic tickets issued that strongly suggested racial profiling behavior in the City of St. Ann, Mr. Schmitt brought this to the attention of several advocacy organizations and developed a coalition to fight this discrimination. After several years, the coalition managed to arrange meetings with three successive mayors, the municipal judge and prosecutors, and the city manager. As a result, the 2011 racial profiling statistics published by the Missouri Attorney General's office for St. Ann appeared to show a marked reduction in this pattern for the first time.

Most recently, as Chair of the AILA Missouri/Kansas chapter, Mr. Schmitt learned that the conduct of some in the adjudications section of the St. Louis USCIS office was interfering with individuals' right to counsel. He led his chapter in an extensive and ultimately effective response. He successfully organized a chapter-wide survey in order to document the persistent operational and legal issues in the St. Louis USCIS office. Through this survey the chapter catalogued and documented 80 examples of inappropriate conduct spanning the last 2 to 3 years and organized them into a shocking and impactful document.

Upon presenting this documentation to USCIS Director Mayorkas, Mr. Schmitt organized the Chapter members to work with the local, regional, and national leadership within USCIS to rebuild an important working relationship between AILA and this important agency office.

He received his Juris Doctorate from St. Louis University School of Law in 1993, his Master of Arts in Public Administration from St. Louis University in 1993 and his Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Political Science from St. Louis University in 1989.

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