Kellie Shea JD’17 traveled to Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology to present her award-winning paper on stateless youth at the North American Consortium on Legal Education (NACLE) Biennial. The paper, for which she won the NACLE paper competition, offers recommendations for the handling of unaccompanied minors in limbo at the US/Mexico border.  

A stateless person is someone who is not considered a national by any state and has no citizenship or nationality. In certain regions of Mexico most impacted by the drug wars, some parents send their children to the US border to avoid gang violence, Shea said. The children, many 10-14 years old, are rejected for entry into the U.S. and remain near the border without the protections accorded Mexican citizens. Many of the young people fleeing gang violence in Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador may technically have a nationality, she said, but it provides them with no legal protections, “so their citizenship is useless.”

The effects of statelessness are profound, she said; the children get no schooling, no access to hospitals and doctors, and many are trafficked as slaves. The numbers are massive--20 million stateless children globally is the current estimate, she said.

Shea was among 7 student NACLE competition winners from Canadian, Mexican, and US schools.  The topic of the NACLE workshop this year was “Lawyering and Judging in a Global Context: Challenges for the Profession and Legal Education in North America.”  As always with the NACLE workshops, academics, members of private practice, and governments participated on panels and commented on student papers.

The NACLE workshop brings together top schools from Mexico, Canada, and the US, and provides a platform for student exchanges and faculty collaboration. Students may spend a semester in a member school from another country and receive credit from their home institution. NACLE also offers opportunities for faculty to work with peers at other NACLE schools on comparative research on public policy topics concerning North America. Professors have also used web tools to co-teach classes, like Comparative Family Law, with students on multiple campuses.

Suffolk Law Professor Elizabeth Trujillo’s NAFTA course included a simulated NAFTA Chapter 11 investor-dispute arbitration involving students at schools in Canada, Mexico, and the US. Through NACLE and her course on Trends in International Law and Sustainable Development, Trujillo worked with faculty and students in Canada, Mexico, and the US, on policy recommendations for the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The Commission was established as part of NAFTA to ensure NAFTA countries do not compromise on compliance with domestic environmental regulations for the sake of increased trade and investment.