Mary Giovagnoli

Mary Giovagnoli is a Fellow at the American Immigration Council. Previously, Mary served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration Policy at the department of homeland security under the Obama administration from 2015 to 2017, covering a wide portfolio of domestic and international migration issues with an emphasis on coordination of immigration policy across the Department. Prior to that, Mary was the Director of the Immigration Policy Center. Prior to IPC, Mary served as Senior Director of Policy for the National Immigration Forum and practiced law as an attorney with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security—serving first as a trial attorney and associate general counsel with the INS, and, following the creation of DHS, as an associate chief counsel for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mary specialized in asylum and refugee law, focusing on the impact of general immigration laws on asylees. In 2005, Mary became the senior advisor to the Director of Congressional Relations at USCIS. She was also awarded a Congressional Fellowship from USCIS to serve for a year in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office where she worked on comprehensive immigration reform and refugee issues.

Mary attended Drake University, graduating summa cum laude with a major in speech communication. She received a master’s degree in rhetoric and completed additional graduate coursework in rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin, before receiving a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She spent more than ten years teaching public speaking, argumentation and debate, and parliamentary procedure while pursuing her education.

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Trump Administration Justifies Lowest Refugee Admission Target Ever, Arguing That America’s Generosity Remains Boundless

Written by on September 18, 2018 in Asylum, Humanitarian Protection, Refugee Status with 0 Comments
Trump Administration Justifies Lowest Refugee Admission Target Ever, Arguing That America’s Generosity Remains Boundless

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday evening that the Trump administration intends to limit refugee admissions to no more than 30,000 people in Fiscal Year 2019. In an effort to soften the blow, Pompeo noted the United States also intends to process 280,000 asylum cases, arguing that refugee admissions and asylum grants must be […]

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Trump Administration Refugee Admissions Fall Drastically Short of Six-Month Benchmark

Trump Administration Refugee Admissions Fall Drastically Short of Six-Month Benchmark

Six months into fiscal year 2018, the Trump administration has admitted roughly 10,520 refugees, a number so low that it may be impossible to reach the 45,000 target set by the administration last fall. If admissions continue at this slow pace, the United States may barely reach 20,000 refugee admissions by the end of the […]

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Removal of ‘Nation of Immigrants’ from USCIS Mission Ignores Agency’s Mandate and American History

Written by on February 26, 2018 in History of Immigration, Immigration 101 with 0 Comments
Removal of ‘Nation of Immigrants’ from USCIS Mission Ignores Agency’s Mandate and American History

Francis Cissna, Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), unveiled a new mission statement for the agency last week, notably deleting the words “a nation of immigrants” as well as other key principles central to the agency’s work. Given the sweeping changes underway in the enforcement and adjudication of immigration laws, changing […]

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Abandoning Priorities Just Made Immigration Enforcement Work Much Harder

Written by on February 23, 2017 in Enforcement with 0 Comments
Abandoning Priorities Just Made Immigration Enforcement Work Much Harder

The Trump administration ensured this week that its immigration enforcement policies will be a chaotic affair marked by mistakes, civil rights violations and overzealous enforcement. They did this by outlining measures that they claim simply return power to immigration agents to do their jobs—measures such as authorizing the hiring of thousands more border and interior […]

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In Defense of Grace in Immigration Law

Written by on February 17, 2017 in Border Enforcement with 3 Comments
In Defense of Grace in Immigration Law

The public outrage against President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration has thus far been focused on the travel ban aimed at seven Muslim-majority countries and the attacks on the American refugee program. This is understandable, as the chaos and trauma caused by these actions were immediate. These stories gave the public a glimpse into […]

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Talking Turkey—and all the Trimmings—on Immigration in 2014

Written by on November 26, 2014 in Immigration 101 with 0 Comments
Talking Turkey—and all the Trimmings—on Immigration in 2014

My daughter, who is now in high school, casually mentioned to me that she had been talking to the receptionist in the school counselor’s office about the new deferred action program for parents of U.S. citizens and kids. She told the receptionist that this represents a great community service opportunity for high school kids who […]

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Why Individual Votes Matter in Tomorrow’s Election

Written by on November 3, 2014 in Elections with 0 Comments
Why Individual Votes Matter in Tomorrow’s Election

The actress Scarlett Johansson, among many others, has been filling my inbox with reminders to vote tomorrow. Everyone I know, in fact, has complained that they are inundated with email messages, flyers, phone calls and more. As one frustrated voter in Aurora, Colorado told a canvasser, “My phone won’t stop ringing. I remember.” But many […]

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Why the President Has Authority to Act on Deportations

Written by on August 11, 2014 in Enforcement with 10 Comments
Why the President Has Authority to Act on Deportations

The Washington Post published an editorial last week that missed the mark on whether the President has the authority to limit deportations of undocumented immigrants, concluding President Obama would be “tearing up the Constitution” by doing so. The New York Times editorial board followed up Sunday with their more accurate assessment that it “would be […]

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House Uses Unaccompanied Kids as Excuse for More Enforcement, Less Due Process

Written by on August 4, 2014 in Enforcement, Legislation with 0 Comments
House Uses Unaccompanied Kids as Excuse for More Enforcement, Less Due Process

Congress adjourned last week without passing a supplemental spending bill to cover the costs of managing the influx of unaccompanied minors and families in the Rio Grande Valley. If the issue had simply been one of how much of President Obama’s $3.7 billion request actually would be appropriated, there might have been a compromise. The […]

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Report Says Obama Should “Go Big” on Immigration Action

Written by on July 2, 2014 in Executive Action, Reform with 4 Comments
Report Says Obama Should “Go Big” on Immigration Action

This week, President Obama concluded that the House would not act on immigration reform this year, leading him to announce that he would use his executive authority to fix what he could of the immigration system on his own. This is a welcome decision, although details of his plans are unlikely to unfold until later […]

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