AILA Presents Professor Nancy Morawetz with the 2011 Elmer Fried Excellence Award

Monday, June 13, 2011
George Tzamaras / Amanda Walkins
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7618 /

SAN DIEGO, CA - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will award Nancy Morawetz, a professor at New York University School of Law (NYU), the 2011 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award for outstanding professors in the area of immigration law. She will receive the award on June 16, 2011, during AILA's Annual Conference to be held in San Diego, CA.

Ms. Morawetz has been a professor for 24 years at New York University School of Law. In 1999, she co-founded the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, which is well-known as an innovative program combining litigation and non-litigation work on behalf of individual immigrants, advocacy groups and community-based organizations.

Ms. Morawetz's students have worked miracles for their clients. They pursue every factual lead and find legal solutions where others would have abandoned hope. As one of her students said, "[p]eople often comment that the Immigrant Rights Clinic takes on incredibly difficult cases. But that's not surprising. Nancy doesn't pick her battles based on what she thinks can be easily won. No matter how difficult the case, she finds a way to make the argument and explain why it's right. And she pushes her students like she pushes the law."

For the past two years, Ms. Morawetz has also chaired the Supreme Court Immigration Law Working Group, a national coalition that monitors immigration cases at the Supreme Court and works to ensure that those cases benefit from the best possible advocacy. In addition to her teaching, she engages in scholarship focused on detention, deportation, and judicial review.

Ms. Morawetz dates her zeal for immigration work to hearing stories from her husband, Manny Vargas, in the days after the passage of AEDPA in 1996. She said, "Manny would come home and tell me heart-breaking stories about clients who suddenly faced the prospect of mandatory detention and mandatory deportation. I was shocked by what I was hearing and dove into analyzing the retroactivity issues. Once I started work in this field, I was hooked."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 11061370.