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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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 2 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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Effort to Quickly Deport Child Migrants Fails to Address the Problem

Effort to Quickly Deport Child Migrants Fails to Address the Problem

The White House informed Congress Monday that it would seek additional funding for an aggressive border enforcement strategy designed to thwart the dramatic increase in unaccompanied minors and families crossing the southwestern border, to expend more resources on fighting traffickers and drug smugglers, and to work closely with Mexico and Central American countries to end […]

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The Legacy of S. 744, the Senate Immigration Reform Bill

Written by on June 27, 2014 in Legislation, Reform with 2 Comments
The Legacy of S. 744, the Senate Immigration Reform Bill

On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed S. 744, an ambitious, bipartisan comprehensive reform of our immigration system.  Although far from perfect, it represented a genuine effort to wrestle with the complex, confusing, and highly emotional train wreck that has become our immigration system.  In the months that followed, a small bipartisan team in the […]

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On Immigration, Legislative Reform and Administrative Action Are Not at Odds

Written by on April 18, 2014 in Enforcement, Legislation, Reform with 5 Comments
On Immigration, Legislative Reform and Administrative Action Are Not at Odds

A year ago this week, senators introduced S. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, to much fanfare. It was a high point for the immigration reform movement, only to be eclipsed by the bipartisan vote to move the bill out of committee and then, in June 2013, final passage in the Senate itself. Thus far, […]

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