LGBTQ+ Immigrant Representation CLE
Friday, June 2, 2023
9:30 AM -12:00 PM CT
LGBTQ+ Immigrants face specific and unique challenges navigating the U.S. immigration legal system. These challenges are exacerbated in Houston, where there is not a major legal service provider who serves this population specifically or at scale. Moreover, based upon multiple discussions with leading, national organizations whose mission are to serve LGBTQ+ immigrants, finding pro bono attorneys to represent LGBTQ+ immigrants is particularly difficult in Houston, especially when compared to other major cities. To address this need and in honor of Pride Month, the Immigration Clinic seeks to train and encourage attorneys to represent LGBTQ+ immigrants pro bono, as well as introduce organizations within Greater-Houston that serve the LGBTQ+ community and provide resources that may enhance the legal representation.
What will be discussed:
1. What are the immigration laws affecting the LGBTQ+ immigrant community? Specifically, what forms of immigration relief or benefits are potentially available for LGBTQ+ immigrants?
2. How can attorneys effectively represent LGBTQ+ immigrants?
3. What are the current legislative trends and pending case law which will potentially affect the LGBTQ+ immigrant community?
Dr. Nusrat Ameen
Dr. Ameen has been with Daya for the past 16 years and currently serves as the Senior Director. She is a visionary and highly accomplished strategic thinker who serves a key role at Daya Inc. since 2008, growing it into a reputable and successful organization focused on the wellbeing of abused women. Daya is a Houston-based non-profit working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Dr. Ameen is also an advisory Board Member of Olive Branch, which helps the Muslim population in greater Houston. Dr. Ameen serves as an expert at courts on Domestic Violence cases.
Dr. Ameen has been in the field of gender justice since 1999, a lawyer and academic working primarily in the area of gender rights and policy advocacy. She was a Visiting Scholar at Rice University’s CWGS Center from 2007-2023. She is an Adjunct on Gender Rights, teaching “Gender and Islam.” She is a recipient of the National Award, “Voices in Action Lifetime Impact Award 2019” for contribution in the field of domestic violence from the National Coalition for Domestic Violence (NCADV). Dr. Ameen is a Committee Member on the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) Policy Table for the 88th Legislative Session. She is a Member of the National Forced Marriage Working Group and in the policy table of Reproductive Justice. Dr. Ameen also sits at the Crime Victims Response Team (CVRT) in Fort Bend and a member of the crime victims working group for immigration reforms in Houston. Her advocacy collectively with other non-profits resulted in raising the age of marriage in Texas to 18 years. Her federal level advocacy resulted in H4’s getting work authorization since 2015.
Dr. Ameen holds a PhD in Domestic Violence and Law from the United Kingdom and has published extensively in her field. Her book Wife Abuse in Bangladesh: An Unrecognized Offense (University Press 2005) has been cited extensively worldwide, including in the UK Home Office’s COIS Report.
The Honorable Judge Shannon B. Baldwin
The Honorable Judge Shannon B. Baldwin practiced law for over 22 years prior to becoming a judge. She is licensed in Georgia and Texas. She practiced law in Atlanta, Georgia for four years before returning to Texas. Judge Baldwin is a former prosecutor and opened her law practice in Texas in 2003. She was formerly a Partner at Baldwin Williams & Associates, PLLC. She has tried cases before a jury from traffic violations up to capital murder. Currently, she is serving her second term as the elected presiding Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 4. In addition to her regular docket, Judge Baldwin presided over one of five misdemeanor SOBER Courts assisting individuals with alcohol and drug addictions.
Currently, she is the presiding Judge of the Misdemeanor Veterans Court for veterans in the criminal justice system with dual concerns (addiction, PTSD) as a result of serving our Country.
In her first two years on the bench, Judge Baldwin was the Local Administrative Judge for all 20 misdemeanor courts in Harris County. Additionally, Judge Baldwin is an adjunct professor at Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University and Alvin Community College.
Judge Baldwin was the first African American woman to run and preside as an open member of the LGBTQIA community in Harris County. She was further honored to be one of the “Houston 19” as one of the largest group of African American women to run for judge in Harris County, the third largest county in the U.S.
Judge Baldwin joined the U.S. Army Reserves on September 23, 1987. Upon graduating from college, she was commissioned as an officer, 2nd Lieutenant.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement and Police Science at Sam Houston State University. Judge Baldwin went on to graduate Cum Laude from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Georgia earning her Juris Doctorate.
Judge Baldwin is an active member of several professional organizations and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. a public service sorority.
Last but certainly not least, Judge Baldwin is a mother to a beautiful 5 year old girl!
Maddy Dwertman (they/them) represents clients in a broad range of complex litigation matters, including securities litigation and general commercial litigation. They also maintain a pro bono practice focused on LGBTQ rights and the representation of LGBTQ migrants.
Committed to being involved with the legal community, Maddy has held several leadership roles with bar associations and community organizations. They currently serve on the boards of American Gateways and the Women’s Refugee Commission. Maddy was recognized as a “Best LGBTQ Lawyer Under 40” by the National LGBTQ Bar Association in 2020 and received a Pro Bono Publico Award from the American Bar Association in 2022.
Ash Hall (they/them) is the Policy & Advocacy Strategist on LGBTQIA+ Rights for the ACLU of Texas. Ash became involved in social justice advocacy in Texas over a decade ago, after discovering their own queer and trans identities and finding community with others facing oppression. They have worked on numerous campaigns and nonprofits dedicated to achieving civil rights for all and equity for LGBTQIA+ people. Their professional and personal efforts have played a role in the defeat of more than 260 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills in the Texas legislature. Ash is committed to reaching justice for all marginalized communities and changing cultural norms in favor of compassion and equity.
Ashley Heidebrecht, LMSW
Ashley Heidebrecht, LMSW, is the Director of the Diversity and Resiliency Institute of El Paso, a program of the Borderland Rainbow Center. Ashley has substantial experience in direct service, non-profit management, community organizing, advocacy, and education, particularly surrounding immigration, LGBTQ+ allyship, and anti-racism. Through this work she has been able to collaborate with multiple local, state, and national organizations and grassroots groups. Ashley has provided anti-racism and LGBTQ+ allyship education to over 60,000 people and multiple institutions, including Georgetown Medical School, Burning Man, and The Canadian General Consulate. Ashley also works independently using her platform The Radical Social Worker.
State Representative Ann Johnson
Ann Johnson is a former Chief Human Trafficking Prosecutor, teacher, and small business owner and passionate fighter for women and families in the State House. In Austin, Ann has earned awards for her ability to work with others and cut through gridlock, passing legislation to address public safety, reform our criminal justice system, and increase access to mental health resources for our most vulnerable. As a proud member of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, Ann will always be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
she/her – Diana, named for the statue of the huntress in Mexico City on Reforma Street, was born and raised in El Paso, Texas by immigrant parents from Juarez, and a large extended binational family. Diana graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a BA in History and a minor in Secondary Education. Diana then taught in many types of schools, teaching students of all ages and a diverse array of subjects. In 2009, Diana graduated from UTEP with a Masters in History. Since 2010 Diana has taught at both El Paso Community College and at UTEP. Diana also works with others to organize community actions to stand up for the rights of immigrants and immigrant children in detention.
A native Houstonian, Courtney started as a Direct Mentor and Treasurer with Grace Place in 2015. In 2017, she took over as Grace Place Executive Director, helping to add a second night of services, increase resources, and make Grace Place more accessible for more LGBTQ+ youth. Courtney is passionate about amplifying the voices of youth experiencing homelessness and the specific intersectional needs of Grace Place youth who are impacted by racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. She loves to spend time with her daughter and their dog, exploring Houston’s many thrift shops, and making a lot of noise about public transportation in Houston.
Professor Parker Sheffy is a staff member of the UH Law Center’s award-winning Immigration Clinic. His work encompasses representing indigent individuals with immigration-based legal cases while simultaneously supervising and teaching law students in connection with those very cases. Mr. Sheffy represents clients with disparate immigration-based needs, including issues at the intersections of family law and immigration law, as well as criminal law and immigration law. He is active within the Greater-Houston immigration legal services community and contributes scholarship to the field. Prior to joining the Law Center in Spring 2022, Mr. Sheffy worked as a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City. He began his career in legal education at the University of Houston Law Center as a Clinical Teaching Fellow with the Immigration Clinic in the fall of 2019. He has been published in an academic law journal and contributes to local and national media coverage pertaining to immigration-based legal and policy issues.
Shelly L. Skeen
Shelly L. Skeen (she/her) is a Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal and was recently named the Regional Director for the South Central Region of Lambda Legal. Shelly is a seasoned litigator, mediator, arbitrator, and appellate practitioner. She holds a diploma in International Arbitration, has filed amici briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully appeared before the Texas Supreme Court. Shelly served as the Chair of the LGBT Law Section for the State Bar of Texas (SBOT), is adjunct faculty for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and UNT Dallas School of Law and is a frequent speaker and author. In 2016, The Texas Bar College awarded Shelly The Franklin Jones Award for the Best CLE Article. In 2018, Shelly earned an LL.M. from UCLA School of Law, with specializations in Constitutional Law and Law & Sexuality. Shelly works with UT and UNT law schools for Transgender people in their legal clinics, is a certified Queer & Trans Affirming Professional, serves on the Board of the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House and Museum, and was recently named a “Living Legend” by the Dallas Bar Association.
Lorilei W. (they/them) is a queer, trans non-binary Korean-American abolitionist, artist, and attorney dedicated to teaching legal advocates on how to engage in trauma-informed and antiracist advocacy in their individual capacities and collectively as movement advocates using an interdisciplinary approach informed by systems theory, design thinking, and management science. They work as an immigration attorney and as an expert trainer and coach for legal services advocates and organizations across the nation. Their expertise is informed by over a decade of experiences ranging from volunteer to director at nonprofit organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Legal Services NYC, and various Catholic Charities organizations. Lorilei also served as the Training Attorney for the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, where they designed and launched a national network of expert legal advocates to lead sessions on racial justice advocacy, community-driven advocacy, systems thinking, and supervision. Lorilei's experiences building power in local community groups are the foundation for their approach on building sustainable, collaborative advocacy models. Lorilei is admitted to the state bars of New York and Texas, the 2nd Circuit, SDNY and EDNY. They are a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and the University of Maryland.
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One research university and an EEO/AA institution.
4170 Martin Luther King Blvd
Houston, TX 77204-6060
713-743-2094 Legal Clinics