On Thursday, June 27, 2013, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will bestow its highest annual honor, the Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for excellence in advancing the practice of immigration law, to our very own Thomas Ragland. AILA is the most comprehensive and significant professional organization of immigration lawyers, comprising more than 11,000 lawyers practicing U.S. immigration law around the globe. For the past 22 years, AILA has awarded the Lowenstein award to the lawyer who has most positively impacted impacted immigration law over the past year. Thomas is being recognized not only for his recent important victories in Congress and in federal courts, which have provided significant benefits for immigrants nationwide, but also for his leadership of AILA’s National Federal Court Litigation Committee, which helps lawyers around the country improve their litigation skills and share knowledge and efforts in advancing immigrant rights in the courts. In honoring Thomas, AILA wrote, “He has done much to promote aggressive, careful and competent litigation to counter irrational and abusive decisions by the government.”
Thomas was nominated for the award by his fellow AILA members.
- Denyse Sabagh wrote: “He is truly outstanding and most deserving. He is the consummate litigator. He leaves no stone unturned and is dogged in his pursuit of justice and getting the right results for his clients. His work in the Waheed case and the Akinsade and Abusamhadeneh litigation have been excellent. These were extremely difficult cases and Thomas’ litigation skills won the day. His work not only benefited the clients but created decisions which are beneficial to us all.”
- Joe Hohenstein from Philadelphia wrote: “Thomas is a tireless litigator, I have no doubt that he is one of the most – if not the most – astute immigration practitioners in the United States today. I am impressed with the way in which he has managed several complex cases along with increased duties for AILA on a national level – not to mention being a partner in his own firm. The thing I most appreciate about Thomas is that he has the exactitude of an engineer and the soul of a philosopher.”
- Many Vargas and Isaac Wheeler of the Immigrant Defense Project wrote: “The Immigrant Defense Project enthusiastically supports Thomas Ragland’s nomination for the Wasserman award. Thomas has done pathbreaking work in the field of criminal immigration law. His outstanding advocacy on behalf of A.Waheed contributed significantly to the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Prudencio v. Holder, 669 F.3d 472 (4th Cir. 2012) striking down Matter of Silva-Trevino. His ceaseless efforts for Akinsade resulted in important precedential victories in not one but two circuit courts, a truly impressive accomplishment. IDP has also sought Thomas’s wise advice in other criminal immigration litigation and benefits from his valuable contributions to national litigation strategy discussions through the AILA federal litigation section, the AIC national litigation strategy network, and other fora. He richly deserves recognition for his superb work and commitment to the rights of the some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged noncitizens.”
- Rekha Sharma-Crawford of the Kansas City Sharma-Crawfords wrote: “Thomas has been a leader in litigating complex, cutting edge issues while being a passionate advocate for a fair and reasonable interpretation of the immigration laws. His dedication to his community and his clients is out shined only by Thomas’ commitment to his colleagues in helping them reach their full potentials.”
- Bob Pauw, a scholar on representing individuals before the courts wrote: “His work in the Akinsade litigation and the Waheed case has been of the highest caliber and has provided benefits not only to his own clients but to many other non-citizens as well. In addition, through his work as chair of the Federal Court Litigation Section he has provided assistance and guidance to other litigators throughout the country.”
- Jeff Joseph from Colorado wrote: ““Thomas is one of the most prominent immigration litigators in AILA’s ranks. We are so blessed to have stolen him from OIL. He is known for taking on the most complex and challenging issues and has a track record of success. He has also taken on leadership of the federal court litigation section and the very active list serve and has grown the section into an enormous success.”
- Scott Pollock from Chicago wrote: “In addition to his successes in the federal courts and steering the Federal Litigation section, he is always available to mentor other litigators. He has participated as faculty for several AIC litigation institutes. All in all, he has done a great job to promote aggressive, careful and competent litigation to counter irrational and abusive decisions by the government.”
- Erich Straub of Milwaukee wrote: “I have taught with Mr. Ragland at AIC’s Litigation Institute, and I have presented with him at other immigration CLE’s. What impresses me so much about him in those contexts is that he is able to clearly and concisely communicate how he litigates to other practitioners. His courtroom victories speak for themselves, but his constant commitment to making other attorneys better is what makes me confident that he is having a much deeper, longer lasting impact on the immigration bar and litigation.”
Thomas’ dedication to precise, incisive, and intelligent lawyering distinguishes his practice in a field where many are content to settle for “good enough” representation. Thomas craves complexity, welcomes the last-ditch effort where all other lawyers have failed, and wields a mighty red pen. He recognizes that clarity and details matter – on paper or in oral argument, Thomas’ words are chosen with surgical precision. And like surgical patients, his clients quite literally owe him their lives.
At Benach Ragland, we are proud and lucky to have Thomas on our team. We learn from him everyday and are inspired by his meticulous strategy and execution. We appreciate his friendship and his quiet and steady intensity to serve our clients to the best of his ability.
Congratulations Thomas! We love you!