AILA Presents Rebecca Sharpless with the 2018 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will recognize Rebecca Sharpless of the University of Miami School of Law with the 2018 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award this week during AILA’s Annual Conference in San Francisco.

Professor Sharpless is founder and director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law and teaches immigration law. With her clinic students, she represents indigent noncitizens in removal proceedings and engages in litigation in U.S. district court and before the U.S. courts of appeals. The Clinic’s recent work has included defending Somali men and women who were shackled and abused during a botched deportation flight, challenging Miami-Dade County’s policy of detaining jailed noncitizens for ICE, and advocating against post-earthquake deportations to Haiti through human rights advocacy and the fact-finding report, “Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Post-Earthquake Deportations to Haiti.”

Professor Sharpless’ scholarly interests lie in the areas of progressive lawyering, feminist theory, and the intersection of immigration and criminal law. She speaks widely on immigration law, including at academic conferences and events such as AILA's Annual Conference and seminars of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG). She organizes continuing legal education seminars on immigration topics and has been called upon to testify on immigration issues.

From 2016-2017, Professor Sharpless served as the president of the AILA South Florida Chapter. She is a longstanding board member of NIPNLG. From 1996 to 2007, Professor Sharpless was a supervising attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice (formerly Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center), where she engaged in extensive litigation on behalf of low-income immigrants as lead counsel in cases before the U.S. courts of appeals and U.S. district courts, as well as the immigration court and the Board of Immigration Appeals.


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. 18061105.