New York immigration attorney George Akst spoke at the Law School Monday about President Donald Trump's recent round of executive orders on immigration law, including the latest, a temporary ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The President's orders resulted in the detention at Logan airport Saturday of two UMass Dartmouth faculty members returning from an academic conference in Paris. An open letter from Interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm and Provost Mohammad Karim explained how the pair were released after three hours, and they issued a statement Tuesday. Akst described the legal actions pending against the President's executive orders, and the injunctions that have issued across the country, in cities including Boston. According to Akst, the bulk of the President's orders probably will pass constitutional muster, notwithstanding a robust public debate over their merits. But the initial breadth of the orders, sweeping in lawful U.S. residents, was ill planned and wreaked havoc in the immigration system, in U.S. diplomacy, in higher education, and in the lives of people separated from family members, Akst explained.
George Akst is a founder and partner of the New York law firm Akst & Akst. He has practiced immigration law for 40 years, and his clients have included Nobel winners, Broadway stars, and Olympic athletes. His appearance at the Law School kicks off a semester celebration of immigration law, which will include a Law Review symposium and anniversary of the Immigration Law Clinic. While visiting the Law School, Akst also had coffee with students to talk about the challenges of launching and establishing a solo or small-firm practice in a competitive market. He described how an attorney can balance fee-based, "low bono," and pro bono work. Akst's visit to the Law School was sponsored by the International Law Students Association, the UMass Law Review, the Immigration Law Clinic, the Law Faculty Development Committee; by the Offices of Career Services, Student Life, and the Dean; and by Akst & Akst. The visit was coordinated by Professors Richard Peltz-Steele and Irene Scharf.