Q&A with Professor Sabrineh Ardalan
Harvard Law School | The Case Studies has published a new case study and classroom simulation developed by Sabrineh Ardalan, Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School and Assistant Director at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, along with Brittany Deitch, J.D. Case Writing Fellow, and Lisa Brem, Managing Director of the Teaching, Learning and Curriculum group at HLS.
The case study includes a background note on sanctuary jurisdictions and a roles for six stakeholders who present comments and testimony at a mock legislative hearing on a bill affecting such jurisdictions.
Our Case Studies Program staff asked Professor Ardalan about her experience developing and teaching the case study. Read her answers to our questions below, and download free copies of Sanctuary Cities.
Why did you choose to create this simulation for your course?
I wanted the students in my immigration law class to engage with the complex legal issues presented by the current debate over sanctuary policies and was eager to facilitate a productive debate. A legislative simulation seemed like the ideal format for the class, particularly given the various legislative proposals introduced in Congress, as well as in city councils and states across the country.
What challenges and opportunities did teaching this simulation present?
The simulation allowed for both sides of the debate to have equal airtime so that students could fully understand the arguments for and against sanctuary-related policies and legislation. It was a challenge deciding what legislative initiative to use to allow students to explore the issues most fully, and we considered various bills pending at the state and federal level before making a decision.
What are the major takeaways that students will learn in this simulation?
Students will learn how to distill complicated legal arguments into clear, persuasive, and concise talking points and how to think through their strongest and weakest arguments in order to respond to questions and provide comments on testimony.
How did the students react to the simulation?
The students were very engaged both in the simulation itself and in the preparation for the simulation. They worked well in teams to develop testimony, arguments, and questions.
What would you tell (advice you would give) other faculty looking to use this simulation?
The more time you can allocate to debrief, the better. I wish I had built in additional space for a group discussion and feedback afterwards. Also, I would recommend bringing in advocates who have attended or testified at prior Congressional hearings to participate in the simulation, either by chairing the committee hearing or by commenting on the simulation and the issues presented after the fact.
I was lucky enough to have two amazing lawyers – JJ Rosenbaum, formerly the Legal Director with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice which led efforts in New Orleans and advocacy efforts at the Congressional hearings on New Orleans as a Sanctuary City, and Avideh Moussavian, who works on sanctuary issues at NILC – chair the hearing for the simulation, which greatly enhanced the experience for everyone involved.