Professor Margaret Taylor Receives 2003 Fried Excellence in Teaching Award

Professor Margaret Taylor was recently selected to receive the 2003 Elmer Fried Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). This award will be presented in June at the annual AILA meeting in New Orleans.

Professor Taylor’s interest in immigration issues began at an early age. She grew up in El Paso, Texas, where she saw immigration on a daily basis. Later on, she took a mission trip to Mexico during a college spring break. On the way back, her group visited the Los Fresnos INS detention center. This visit was a life-changing event for Professor Taylor and it ultimately shaped her future career.

Determined to critique the laws underlying the injustice she saw on that tour, she enrolled in an immigration class during her first year at Yale Law School and wrote a student paper on INS detention policies. This paper served as the starting point for her first law review article and initiated her scholarly pursuit of immigration issues.

After law school Professor Taylor clerked for Judge Jerre Williams on the Fifth Circuit, worked for a few years in a law firm, and ultimately sought out a law school professorship. When she interviewed at Wake Forest University School of Law, she told the dean that she would be willing to teach a variety of courses, as long as she was also able to teach immigration law. Since then, she has published a number of articles on immigration detention and the deportation of criminal offenders

The Elmer Fried Award is presented each year to an immigration law professor who is an excellent classroom teacher and scholar, whose activities have had a positive effect on the practice of immigration law, who serves as a mentor to other teachers and practitioners, and who helps build and maintain the community of immigration law teachers.

Based on these criteria, Professor Taylor’s colleagues in AILA deemed her imminently qualified to receive this prestigious award. Her teaching skills were honored this year when she won the Wake Forest Teaching Excellence award. Her scholarship has been widely regarded for its theoretical sophistication as well as its practical focus. She is one of only a few full-time law professors who are active in AILA and contribute regularly to its work, bridging the gap between academic and immigration law practice.

She has also made particularly important contributions to advocacy and litigation efforts in the area of immigration detention. She recently testified before Congress on detention issues, regularly submits comments on proposed regulations, and has helped organize amicus briefs on behalf of law professors in cases challenging mandatory and indefinite detention. Her scholarship has laid a theoretical foundation for advocates who represent INS detainees. Professor Taylor participates in advocacy efforts like the Commission on Immigration Reform Consultation on Detention and the Detention Watch Network. She also served on the advisory board of the Vera Institute of Justice Appearance Assistance Program, a pilot project that tested a model of supervised release as an alternative to INS detention.

Professor Taylor’s remarkable ability to untangle difficult legal issues and translate them into a form that can be easily understood by both students and colleagues has won her admiration and respect in government circles, in academia, and in the entire advocacy community. Wake Forest Law School honors Professor Taylor for these contributions and congratulates her on receiving the 2003 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award