Rebecca Sharpless

Professor of Clinical Legal Education & Director, Immigration Clinic

Social Justice/Public Interest Concentration Affiliated Faculty
J.D. 1994, Harvard Law School
M.Phil. 1991, University of Cambridge
B.A.1990, Swarthmore College

Phone: 305-284-3576
Office: E257

Professor Sharpless joined the faculty in the fall of 2009 and directs the Immigration Clinic and teaches immigration law. She researches and writes in the areas of progressive lawyering, feminist theory, and the intersection of immigration and criminal law.

Professor Sharpless speaks widely on immigration law, including at events such as the annual conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is a board member of the South Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as a longstanding board member of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Immediately before joining the School of Law's faculty, she was a Visiting Clinical Professor of Law at Florida International University's College of Law, where she taught in-house clinics in the areas of immigration and human rights and a doctrinal course on immigration law. From 1996 to 2007, Professor Sharpless was a supervising attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice (formerly Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center), where she engaged in extensive litigation on behalf of low-income immigrants as lead counsel in cases before the United States Courts of Appeals and United States District Courts as well as in immigration court and before the Board of Immigration Appeals. She has received awards and recognition for her work.


Finally, A True Elements Test: Mathis v. U.S. and the Categorical Approach (forthcoming Brooklyn Law Review), 82 Brook. L. Rev. 1275 (2017).

Cosmopolitan Democracy and the Detention of Immigrant Families, 47 N.M. L. Rev. 19 (2017).

"Immigrants Are Not Criminals”: Respectability, Immigration Reform, and Hyperincarceration, 53 Hous. L. Rev. 691 (2016).

Clear and Simple Deportation Rules for Crimes: Why We Need Them and Why It’s Hard To Get Them, 92 Denv. U. L. Rev. (2015).

Teague New Rules Must Apply In Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings: The Teachings of Padilla, Chaidez, and Martinez, co-authored with Andrew Stanton, with Andrew Stanton, 67 U. Miami L. Rev. (2013).

More Than One Lane Wide: Against Hierarchies of Helping in Progressive Legal Advocacy, 19 Clinical L. Rev. (2012).

Fitting the Formula For Judicial Review: The Law-Fact Distinction in Immigration Law, Symposium, 5 Intercultural Hum. Rts. L. Rev. (2010).

Toward a True Elements Test: Taylor and the Categorical Analysis of Crimes in Immigration Law, 62 U. Miami L. Rev. (2008).

Chevron and Deportation for a Crime (forthcoming) (symposium), Drexel Law Review.

 Media Appearances

Professor Rebecca Sharpless in "Immigration Article of the Day: Teague New Rules Must Apply in Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings: The Teachings of Padilla, Chaidez and Martinez" in ImmigrationProf Blog. 2013

Newspaper: Boston Herald, McGovern: Donald Trump Might Pull Funds if Cops Won’t Hold Illegals, Bob McGovern. November 15 2017

Internet: Associated Press, Adriana Gomez Licon, Suit slams Trump-influenced immigrant detentions in Florida. July 5 2017

Internet: Daily Business Review, Celia Ampel, Miami-Dade County Sued Over Immigration Policy, July 5 2017

Internet: Latino USA, Julio Ricardo Varela, University of Miami Law Clinic Sues Miami-Dade County Over Immigration Detentions. July 5 2017

Newspaper: New Times, Jerry Iannelli, ACLU Sues Miami-Dade County for Illegally Detaining U.S. Citizen for ICE. July 5 2017

Newspaper: The Miami Herald, Douglas Hanks, Miami-Dade jail wrongly held U.S. citizen for deportation, ACLU says in suit. July 5 2017

Newspaper: The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson, U.S. Citizen Detained by Mistake Sues Miami-Dade Over Immigration Enforcement. July 5 2017

TV: NBC Miami, Lawsuit Filed Against Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez Over Immigration Policy. July 5 2017

Internet: Law360, Justices Stand By Categorical Approach in Sex Abuse Case, by Allissa Wickham. June 1 2017

Internet: Associated Press, Airports, Volunteers Prepare for New Trump Travel Ban, by Gene Johnson. February 28 2017

Radio: WLRN, Legal Experts: Gimenez Not Obligated To Obey Trump On Immigrant Detentions. January 31 2017

Internet: ImmigrationProf Blog, Article of the Day: Finally, A True Elements Test. August 20 2016

Other: ImmigrationProf Blog, Article of the Day: “Immigrants Are Not Criminals”: Respectability, Immigration Reform, and Hyperincarceration. February 25 2016

Internet: Law360, Immigration Board Urged To Use Justices’ Moral Turpitude Test, Kelly Knaub. August 4 2015

Internet:, Unjust interpretation’ of Drug Trafficking Law Increases Deportations, Activists Say, by Andrea Torres. June 16 2015

Internet: Spanish Latin America Desk, Associated Press, Vides Casanova detenido mientras decide si apela deportación, Gisela Salomon, Miami Correspondent. April 1 2015

Newspaper: Miami Herald, Op-Ed, Dade, Broward Lead the Way. July 7 2014

Other: CrimProf Blog, Sharpless on Defenses to Removal for Florida Drug Crimes. January 21 2014

Newspaper: El Nuevo Herald, Condado notifica al ICE sobre nueva política sobre detenciones. January 18 2014

Internet: Daily Business Review, UM Law Students Protest Immigration Detainee Conditions. November 21 2013

Internet:, Chaidez v. U.S.: Assuming Teague Applies, Padilla Announced a New Rule. February 22 2013

Other: American Constitutional Society Blog, What Counts as a Teague ‘New Rule’? Supreme Court Hears Argument About Pre-Padilla Criminal Plea Involving Defense Counsel’s Failure to Warn of Deportation. November 1 2012

Other: Florida watches as Supreme Court set to hear state of Arizona argue immigration laws, by John Lantigua. April 22 2012

Newspaper: Miami Herald, US Deportees Face Illegal Detentions, Health Risks in Haiti, by Jacob Kushner. November 15 2011

Other: Immigrant Song: I Don’t Want To Leave (featuring UM Law’s Immigration Clinic). May 2011

Newspaper: Harvard Law School News, Rebecca Sharpless ’94 Leads Effort to Suspend U.S. Deportations to Haiti, by Joanne Wong. February 28 2011

Newspaper: Financial Times, Anger Over US Deporting Immigrants to Haiti, by Andres Schipani. February 8 2011

Newspaper: Sun-Sentinel, Human Rights Commission: Stop Deporting Haitians (discussing the Inter-American Commission’s issuance of precautionary measures urging the suspension of deportations to Haiti). February 4 2011

Internet: Associated Press, Activists Seek End to US Deportations to Haiti (discussing deportations to Haiti and the death of deportee Wildrick Guerrier), by Jennifer Kay, February 2 2011

Newspaper: Palm Beach Post, S. Florida Latinos Fear Racial Profiling Immigration Debate, by John Lantigua May 2 2010

Radio: WLRN, Alternative Spring Break (discussing alternative spring break to help Haitians apply for temporary protected status), by Alicia Zuckerman. March 25 2010

Internet:, UM Law Students Contribute To An International Affair (discussing the new UM Law Immigration Clinic), by Sasha Ramshaw. January 8 2010

Magazine: Newsweek, An American Dream Gone to Pot: Should Legal Immigrants Be Deported For Drug Possession (discussing the equity of deporting longterm permanent residents for relatively minor drug offenses), by Krista Gesaman. January 7 2010

Internet: The National Jurist, Miami Law Clinic Aims to Help Immigrants. October 15 2009

Newspaper: The Florida Bar News, UM Opens Immigration Clinic. October 15 2009

Internet: Daily Business Review, UM Law School Opens Immigration Clinic. September 24 2009

Phone: 305-284-3576
Office: E257
Faculty Assistant

Dominguez, Rose

Phone: (305)284-4542
Office: E270
Faculty Assistant

Vargas, Danny

Phone: (305)284-8537
Office: E270

Websites and Blogs

Immigration Clinic