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Stephen H. Legomsky

John S. Lehmann University Professor Emeritus

Professor Stephen Legomsky took a leave of absence from 2011 to 2013 to serve in the Obama Administration as Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in the Department of Homeland Security. He returned to Washington in July 2015 to serve as Senior Counselor to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, later serving as a member of President Biden’s transition team. His book “Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy” (7th edition published in 2019) has been the required text at 189 law schools since its inception. His other scholarly books, published by the Oxford University Press, include Immigration and the Judiciary – Law and Politics in Britain and America, and Specialized Justice. Professor Legomsky has now published a science fiction novel, THE PICOBE DILEMMA, which explores what it means to be “living” and whether there are personal and ethical hazards in pursuing eternal life in a laboratory. It is available at http://www.booklocker.com/books/9469.html and in all the usual online bookstores.  He has also published many fiction short stories.

Legomsky has testified before Congress many times while in the private sector, most recently before both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees on the legality of President Obama’s immigration executive actions. At one hearing, House immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) commented: “Professor Legomsky, I just want to say publicly that I’ve been in Congress for 20 years. I’ve read a lot of testimony in many hearings over the years. Your testimony is the single best, most concise, logical testimony I have ever read in my 20 years in Congress.” (Transcript link) Professor Legomsky has also served as a member of President Biden’s transition team and as a consultant to the transition teams of Presidents Clinton and Obama, the first President Bush’s Commissioner of Immigration, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, and several foreign governments, on immigration and refugee policies.  He has been an elected member of the Board of Education in University City, Missouri.

A former actuary, Legomsky finished first in his class of 237 students at the University of San Diego School of Law (Day Division).  He has been appointed to visiting positions at Oxford University, Cambridge University, and other universities in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Australia, Suriname, Singapore, Israel, and Portugal. He clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and headed a division of the Ninth Circuit central legal staff. In recent years he has appeared several times on the PBS News Hour, NPR, Al Jazeera, foreign national news broadcasts, and several local NPR and other stations, and has been quoted in the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CNN, USA Today, US News & World Report, Associated Press, Reuters, Voice of America, Huffington Post, Politico, ABC News, NBC news, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, the National Law Journal, Foreign Policy Magazine, and other major news outlets.

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  • Education
    • B.S. in Mathematics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1969
    • JD, University of San Diego, 1977
    • D. Phil., University of Oxford, 1984
  • Courses
    • Immigration Law
    • Immigrants’ Rights Seminar
    • Criminal Law
    • Administrative Law
    • International Human Rights
    • International Criminal Law
    • International Legal Process
    • Torts
    • Restitution
    • Poverty Law
  • Areas of Expertise
    • Immigration law
    • Refugee law
  • Publications

    SSRN Authors Page

    • The Picobe Dilemma, Booklocker.com, 2017, https://www.left-bank.com/book/9781634926904
    • Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy, Foundation Press (7th ed. 2019)
    • Specialized Justice, Oxford Univ. Press, 1990
    • Immigration and the Judiciary – Law and Politics in Britain and America, Oxford Univ. Press 1987
    • Restructuring Immigration Adjudication, 59 Duke L.J. 1635 (2010)
    • Learning to Live with Unequal Justice: Asylum and the Limits to Consistency, 60 Stanford L. Rev. 413 (2007).
    • Deportation and the War on Independence, 91 Cornell L. Rev. 369 (2006)
  • Activity and Affiliations
    • Washington University’s Ambassador to the University of Hong Kong in the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, 2006 to 2011
    • Founding director of the law school’s Whitney Harris World Law Institute, 1999-2002
    • Chair, Refugee Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association, 1997-2001
    • Member, American Bar Association’s Coordinating Committee on Immigration, 1995-98
    • Elected to Board of Education, School District of University City, Missouri, 1993-96
    • Vice-Chair, Immigration, Naturalization and Aliens Committee of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section of American Bar Association, 1992-98
    • Chair, American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Law Professor’s Committee, 1992-93
    • Consultant to the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Chair of the Commissioner’s Policy Advisory group (met monthly with the Commissioner), 1990-93
    • Consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States, 1985 and 1987
    • Founder, and first Chair, Immigration Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, 1984-86
  • Honors and Awards
    • American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching award given annually to one US immigration law professor, 2006
    • Washington University’s Arthur Holly Compton Award, given annually to one university faculty member for career accomplishments, 2005
    • Washington University School of Law Alumni Association triennial teaching award, 1998
    • Washington University Founder’s Day Distinguished Faculty Award, 1992
    • Elected member of the American Law Institute, 1990 to present
    • Graduated first in class of 237 students at the University of San Diego School of Law (Day Division), 1977
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