Miers Helped Migrant Facing Deportation

Alfonso Chardy, Miami Herald, Oct. 19

When Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers headed the State Bar of Texas more than a decade ago, she volunteered her time to successfully defend a young woman from Nigeria facing deportation.

Miers represented the woman on behalf of Catholic Charities of Dallas, one of many immigrant rights advocacy groups that represent poor migrants facing removal or seeking asylum in the United States. These groups are generally perceived by people opposed to undocumented migrants as biased in favor of illegal migrants.

Individual lawyers who work for these groups often have views that differ from group philosophies and merely represent their clients zealously, as lawyers are expected to do.

Bush nominated Miers to the high court on Oct. 3. Her confirmation hearing is expected in November.

Miers’ role in the 1993 Dallas immigration case could add to a debate, principally involving conservatives, about whether she is conservative enough for the nation’s high court. Certain conservative leaders have voiced concerns about Miers’ philosophy.

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“Harriet Miers devoted about 125 hours in a single year to litigating an immigration case pro bono on behalf of Catholic Charities,” Tamburri said. “Ms. Miers also worked on family law matters on a pro bono and paid basis.”

Catholic Charities almost didn’t take the case because its leaders felt at the time there was little hope of helping the woman avoid deportation.

“It was a very complicated case,” said Vanna Slaughter, division director for Catholic Charities’ immigration and legal services in Dallas. “But it was a compelling, humanitarian case. She had tremendous compassion for the circumstances of this young woman.”

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