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An open book in class

Abel Rodríguez, JD ('01)

Director, Center on Immigration
Assistant Professor of Religion, Law, and Social Justice

Abel Rodríguez ('01) is Director of the Center on Immigration and Assistant Professor of Religion, Law, and Social Justice at Cabrini University.  His scholarship, teaching, and advocacy focus on migrant justice.  He is an expert and frequent speaker on immigration policy and the intersection of criminal and immigration law.  As Director of the Center on Immigration, he facilitates educational forums, fosters interdisciplinary research among scholars, and engages university communities in advocacy related to migrant rights.      

Prior to Cabrini, Professor Rodríguez held a split position as the immigration specialist at the Defender Association of Philadelphia and staff attorney at Nationalities Service Center, where he advised and represented noncitizen clients facing deportation.  He also worked as the Langer, Grogan, and Diver Social Justice Fellow at Esperanza Immigration Legal Services, where he represented individuals with disabilities and older adults in their immigration matters.  He has taught the immigration clinic at Temple University Law School, political science at La Salle University, and Spanish language at the University of Pennsylvania.     

As the son of immigrants and a first-generation college graduate, raised in a working-class community near Cabrini, Rodríguez is delighted to be on the faculty of his alma mater, an institution dedicated to social justice and named for the patroness of immigrants.  

Rodríguez earned a juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard University, Master of Arts in Latin American Studies at Stanford University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at Cabrini College.

Areas of Expertise

Immigration law and policy; the intersection of criminal and immigration law; religion and law

Publications and Advocacy Films

Publications

  • Legislating Morality: Normative Ethics and the Crime Involving Moral Turpitude in the Immigration Context (co-author) (in progress)
  • Crimes and Immigration: Civil Advocacy for Noncitizens at the Intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law, in Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees: Legal Issues, Clinical Skills, and Advocacy (Fernando Chang-Muy and Elaine P. Congress eds., 2d ed., Springer Publishing Company 2016).
  • Embracing Mother Cabrini’s Vision: Pursuing Immigrant Justice in the Classroom and Beyond, Cabrini Magazine, Fall 2016.

Advocacy Films

  • Boxed Out: Criminal Records and the Ban the Box Movement in Philadelphia (Penn Program on Documentaries and the Law 2011) (co-director and co-editor)
  • The Solutions: Buduburam Refugee Settlement and Ghana’s Forgotten Guests (Penn Law School 2011) (director and editor)

Presentations

  • Panelist, “DACA and Dreamers: Twenty-First Century Immigration Policy in America,” Delaware County Community College (October 31, 2017)
  • Speaker, “Combatting Myths and Misconceptions in the Immigration Continuum” Catholic Immigrant Refugee Coalition Convening, Radnor, PA (September 22, 2017) 
  • Panelist, “Immigration Law and Constitutional Principles,” Annual Continuing Legal Education, City of Philadelphia Law Department, Philadelphia, PA (July 27, 2017)
  • Panelist, “Dreamers in College: (Im)Migration and Successful Institutional Policies,” Latinos and Education Conference, Delaware County Community College, Marple, PA (April 7, 2017)
  • Panelist, “From Criminal Conviction to Civil Nightmare,” Philadelphia Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA (March 30, 2017)
  • Facilitator, Know Your Rights Training, ACLAMO Family Centers, Pottstown, PA (March 21, 2017)
  • Facilitator, Know Your Rights Training, ACLAMO Family Centers, Norristown, PA (February 27, 2017)
  • Panelist, “Immigration in Philadelphia,” Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA (February 25, 2017)
  • Speaker, “The Resurgence of Secure Communities and 287(g) in a Trump Administration,” Coalición Fortaleza Latina, Norristown, PA (December 18, 2016)
  • Panelist, “Advancing the Common Good: Social Issues in the 2016 Election,” Faithful Citizens Series: Voting With Your Conscience, Cabrini University, Radnor, PA (October 12, 2016)
  • Speaker, “Toward a More Just Narrative: Immigration Law, Race, and Social Justice in the United States,” Metanoia Young Adult Group, Collegeville, PA (May 17, 2016)
  • Panelist, “Abriendo Puertas: Strengthening Latino Communities Through Mentoring, Leadership and Increasing College Access,” Latinos and Education Conference, Delaware County Community College, Marple, PA (April 15, 2016)
  • Symposiarch, Lenten Lecture Series: Immigration Justice, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA (Spring 2016)
  • Panelist, Refugees in America and Abroad, Cabrini College and Catholic Relief Services, Radnor, PA (November 18, 2015)
  • Presenter, “New Latin American Cinema and the City of God,” Cabrini College Film and Media Film Festival, Radnor, PA (November 10, 2015)
  • Panelist, Cross-Clinic Orientation, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA (January 21, 2015)
  • Guest Lecturer, “Contemporary Issues in Immigrant Rights,” Morality Matters Class, Department of Religious Studies, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA (December 1, 2014)
  • Guest Lecturer, “Crimes and Deportation: Pitfalls and Strategies within the Criminal and Immigration Legal Systems,” Immigration Law Class, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA (November 3, 2014)
  • Guest Lecturer, Advising Non-Citizens in Criminal Proceedings, Criminal Defense Clinic, Drexel University Law School, Philadelphia, PA (October 29, 2014)
  • Panelist, “Effective Immigration Practice for Solo and Small Firms,” Bench-Bar and Annual Conference, Philadelphia Bar Association, Atlantic City, NJ (October 18, 2014)
  • Panelist, “Diversity in Public Interest,” Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, PA (September 8, 2014)
  • Panelist, “Know Your Criminal and Immigration Rights,” Trans-Health Conference, Philadelphia, PA (June 14, 2014)
  • Panelist, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Proceedings, Philadelphia Municipal Court Judicial Conference, Philadelphia, PA (May 9, 2014)
  • Guest Lecturer, “Legal Challenges Facing Our Immigrant Communities,” TESOL Language and Linguistics Speaker Series, College of Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (April 24, 2014)
  • Trainer, “Encountering Immigration Issues Unexpectedly,” Criminal Defense Continuing Legal Education Training, Defender Association of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA (April 5, 2014)
  • Panelist, “A Dialogue about Immigration, Identity, and Policy,” Penn for Immigrant Rights, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (February 26, 2014)
  • Guest Speaker, “A Call to Service,” Delta Epsilon Sigma Honor Society Induction Ceremony, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA (February 25, 2014)
  • Panelist, Penn Law Outreach Career Panel, Black Law Students Association, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA (February 8, 2014)
  • Panelist, “The Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity,” Drexel University Law School, Philadelphia, PA (January 27, 2014)
  • Trainer, Defenses to Deportation, Legal Assistance Program, Mexican Consulate of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA (December 27, 2013) 
  • Panelist, Immigration Law and Practice Today, Villanova University Law School, Villanova, PA (November 21, 2013)
  • Guest Lecturer, “Criminal Records and the Ban the Box Movement in Philadelphia,” The Rich and the Poor, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (November 7, 2013)
  • Guest Lecturer, Advising Non-Citizens in Criminal Proceedings, Criminal Defense Clinic, Drexel University Law School, Philadelphia, PA (October 21, 2013)
  • Panelist, “Hot Topics in Immigrant Rights and Immigration Law,” Philadelphia Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA (June 6, 2013)
  • Panelist, Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions and Sentencing in Pennsylvania Courts, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA (April 23, 2013)
  • Guest Lecturer, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions, Immigration Clinic, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, PA (March 20, 2013)
  • Panelist, “How to Thrive as a Public Interest Lawyer,” Toll Public Interest Center, Penn Law School, Philadelphia, PA (March 14, 2013)
  • Guest Speaker, “Social Justice in Any Language,” Phi Sigma Iota Honor Society Induction Ceremony, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA (March 8, 2013)
  • Speaker, Public Interest Fellowship Boot Camp, Toll Public Interest Center, Penn Law School, Philadelphia, PA (December 3, 2012)
  • Guest Lecturer, Advising Non-Citizens in Criminal Proceedings, Criminal Defense Clinic, Drexel University Law School, Philadelphia, PA (November 19, 2012)
  • Speaker, The Landscape of Immigration Law and Policy, Staff Institute Training, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA (June 26, 2012)
  • Trainer, Naturalization and Medical Waivers for Individuals with Disabilities, Continuing Legal Education Training, Esperanza Immigration Legal Services, Philadelphia, PA (June 15, 2012)
  • Panelist, Careers in Public Service, Esperanza College of Eastern University, Philadelphia, PA (May 9, 2012)
  • Panelist, Forum to Discuss Act 24 (requiring criminal background checks for school employees), Men in Motion in the Community, Philadelphia, PA (April 18, 2012)
  • Panelist, Career Panel for the Professions, University of Pennsylvania Mentoring Initiative, Philadelphia, PA (March 2012)
  • Guest Speaker, Criminal Records and the Ban the Box Movement in Philadelphia, Rutgers School of Law, Camden, NJ (February 15, 2012)
  • Panelist, Penn Law Outreach Career Panel, Black Law Students Association, Penn Law School, Philadelphia, PA (January 28, 2012)
  • Panelist, “Criminal Records and the Ban the Box Movement in Philadelphia,” Program on Documentaries and the Law, Penn Law School, Philadelphia, PA (January 18, 2012)
  • Panelist, “Pursuing a Career in the Public Interest,” Toll Public Interest Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (March 25, 2011)

Awards and Recognition

  • Distinguished Achievement Award, Cabrini University (2017)
  • Honorary Member, Delta Epsilon Sigma (2017)
  • Faculty Development Summer Research Grant, Cabrini University (2016)
  • Langer, Grogan, and Diver Social Justice Fellow (2011-2012)
  • Exemplary Pro Bono Service Award, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2011)
  • Law Student Pro Bono Honoree, Philadelphia Bar Association (2011)
  • Toll Public Interest Scholar, University of Pennsylvania Law School (2008-2011)
  • Nomination, Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, University of Pennsylvania (2006)
  • Penn Course Review’s Highest Rated Professors, University of Pennsylvania (2004-2008)
  • Valedictorian, Cabrini College (2001)

2020 ROADMAP:
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Discover Cabrini University's strategic plan for diversification, sustainable growth, and expanded outreach.