3L Shannon Strombom Wins State Bar Outstanding Public Interest Law Student of Year Award

head shot of Shannon StrombomShannon Strombom (3L) has been chosen as the winner of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Outstanding Public Interest Law Student of the Year.

The criteria used to determine a winner of this award includes a demonstrated commitment to working in the public interest, public interest involvement before and during law school, exceptional volunteer work or activism in the community, and a commitment to helping others.

Strombom came to law school with a mission to help others, and she wasted no time getting involved. She started doing pro bono work in her first weeks as a 1L and has performed nearly 250 pro bono hours in seven different pro bono projects including the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics, Milwaukee Justice Center, Eviction Defense Project, Guardianship Clinic, Domestic Violence Project, U-Visa Project, and Youth Law Day. In other words, if a pro bono project is offered to students, Strombom signs up to do it.

Strombom is also the two-time recipient of a Public Interest Law Society fellowship. She has focused her fellowship work on immigration law, working one summer with Catholic Charities Legal Services for Immigrants and the next summer in the Arlington, Virginia, Immigration Court.

As for her plans after graduation, Strombom plans to build upon past experience and practice immigration law in a government, non-profit or small firm setting. Strombom particularly hopes to focus on family-based immigration law or humanitarian immigration law, such as asylum.

Strombom is an inspiration to us all. We are proud she will soon be a Marquette Lawyer.

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Mitigating Climate Migrants Crisis With Hybrid Status

Previously, I wrote about how the U.S. has no legal instrument that provides legal status for climate migrants.  The lack of such status incentivizes climate migrants to enter or remain in the U.S. illegally. Thus, to mitigate the effects of the migrant crisis, I propose that the U.S. adopt a new legal status tailored to climate migrants. Specifically, I propose a unique hybrid status for climate migrants, which combines aspects of refugee status and temporary protected status (“TPS”).[i] At a minimum, such status must have three key elements for legislation to appropriately address climate migrants: (1) a narrow definition of “climate migrant”, (2) mandatory application of legal status, and (3) conferral of the same rights refugees’ receive.[ii]

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Facing Extinction: Climate Migrant Crisis

Map showing the continents of the the planet Earth with coastal areas marked in red highlighting the effect of a 6 meter rise in sea level. In recent days, President Trump has declared that he would have the United States withdraw from the Paris climate accord.  Business leaders like Elon Musk of Tesla have said that this decision would ultimately harm the economy by yielding the jobs of the future in clean energy to foreign competitors. I argue that withdrawing from the Paris climate accord also serves to exacerbate the climate migrant crisis that will inevitably hit American shores.

The global environment has long impacted migration patterns. For instance, humans have historically left places when deteriorating conditions threatened their survival. However, accelerated effects from climate change are expected to bring about significant and unprecedented changes to global migration patterns. Climate change is rapidly destabilizing global environments,(1) resulting in increasingly more common rising oceans, longer and more frequent droughts, and higher temperatures.(2)  Consequently, changes to global environments will inevitably dislocate people from their homes and nations. In fact, many communities have already started to suffer from the disastrous consequences of climate change. For example, in Gabura, Bangladesh, many of the three thousand people who live in this coastal region have been forced to move their homes onto skinny, man-made embankments to flee the rising ocean.(3)  Yet because of increasingly cramped conditions and dwindling resources, villagers are unable to work, farm, and live as they traditionally have.(4)  Unfortunately, there is no relief in sight, as scientists predict rising waters will completely submerge Gabura and at least seven percent of all Bangladesh before the end of the century.(5)  Parallel stories of growing displacement caused by rising sea-levels,(6) more frequent droughts,(7) and retreating sea ice(8) are found in ever increasing numbers all around the globe.

As nations debate the causes and treatments for climate change, people everywhere are struggling to adapt to new environmental realities. Regrettably, for many adaptation will mean leaving their countries to survive. Such people who are induced to leave their home country because of the climate change are referred to as “climate migrants”.(9)  Presently there is little empirical research to provide anything more than a rough prediction of population displacement that will occur because of climate change.(10)  In fact there is a wide variety of predictions; however this does not undermine the urgency to address the climate migrant crisis. For example, Christian Aid, a British organization that actively provides refugee assistance, predicts that the global number of displaced people may rise to more than one billion by the year 2050, in large part due to climate change.(11)  In comparison, ecologist Norman Myers reports that up to 200 million people may be become climate migrants by the end of this century.(12)  Despite the lack of empirical research, what is certain is that global warming will lead to massive population displacements and climate migration at numbers never before witnessed.(13)  Such displacement will almost certainly lead to extinction of peoples and cultures.

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