Alex Vernon

Alex Vernon

Director, Immigration Law Clinic
Assistant Professor of Law

Vernon, Alex
Contact Info:
Campus: Riverfront Campus
Building: George J. Asher Law Clinic Center
Room: C209
Phone: 313-596-9455
Vernon, Alex
Areas of Expertise:
Immigration Law
US Canada Safe Third Country Agreement
Irregular Crossings into Canada


  • J.D. Ave Maria School of Law ’05
  • B.A. University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College ’98


Professor Vernon joined Detroit Mercy Law faculty in 2015, to direct the Immigration Law Clinic. Professor Vernon has practiced exclusively in immigration law, with prior experience with several firms in the Detroit area, as well as four years of clinical teaching prior to joining Detroit Mercy Law.

Detroit Mercy Law Immigration Law Clinic students gain valuable legal training working with clients fleeing for their lives, struggling for family unity, and striving to regularize their status in the United States. Students participate in immigration hearings, and administrative interviews, and interact with other practicing attorneys for guidance and collaboration on cases. Professor Vernon’s students pursue a wide range of relief including asylum, humanitarian parole, cancellation of removal, prosecutorial discretion, and relief for crime victims and unaccompanied minors. Given their geographic location, Professor Vernon and his students have a unique experience of how the Safe Third Country agreement between Canada and the United States impacts the lives of refugees in both countries.

Professor Vernon is a founding member of the Canada/US Cross Border Network and is on the steering committee of a new legal clinic serving the migrants navigating the Canada/US border. Professor Vernon is a volunteer attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and Freedom House Detroit. He is a Board Member of Detroit's Southwest Immigrant and Refugee Center, Southwest Florida’s Organización Internacional de Latinos en el Exterior, and the Deported Asylum Seekers Assistance Project. Professor Vernon also participates in the American Immigration Lawyers Association, State Bar of Michigan Immigration Chapter, Canadian Council of Refugees, the Canada Sanctuary Network and the International Sanctuary Declaration Network.


    Courses Taught

    Immigration Law Clinic (Law 5060)

    Advanced Immigration Law Clinic (Law 5061)


    Selected Presentations

    Panelist, “Unique Opportunities of Immigration Law: Where Would You Like to Migrate”, AILA Video Roundtable Session on Wednesday, November 29, 2023

    Presenter, Immigration and Refugee Law Careers Panel, University of Windsor School of Law, October 16, 2023

    Presenter, “U.S./Mexico Border and U.S./Canada Border” 40th Anniversary Church Asylum Conference, Berlin, August 31, 2023,

    Presenter, “U.S./Canada Border and Irregular Crossers”, International Sanctuary Declaration Network delegation to Poland/Belarus border organizations, Podlasie, Poland, September, 2023

    Presenter, “Safe Third Country and Irregular Crossers” Midwest People Of Color Conference, Detroit Mercy School of Law, April 22, 2023

    Presenter, “Safe Third Country Agreement and Canada border crossings” Presented at Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative, New York, NY, June 7, 2023

    Presenter,  “Safe Third Country and Irregular Crossers” at 77th Annual Midwest Legislators Conference, Detroit, Michigan,  July 9, 2023,

    Presenter “Expansion of the Canada US Safe Third Country Agreement”, French language Podcast interview with Amjambo Africa on April 6, 2023

    Panelist “Refugees Are Welcome Here: Journeys to Justice and Joy”, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, April 3, 2023

    Presenter “STCA and Canada/US Border issues”, Compass Refugee Centre AGM, January 21, 2023

    Interview “Effects of the STCA and Update on the Supreme Court Challenge”, October 21, 2023. Available at:

    Presenter “Practical Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees” Rehumanize International Conference, October 15, 2022.

    Presenter “STCA and Canada/US Border issues, Center for Migration Studies 2022 Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative (CIII)Conference September 13, 2022, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

    Presenter “Minors in Immigration Law”, Presentation to Debora Paruch’s Children in the Law Class, May 18, 2022

    Presenter “Asylum Law”, Albion College students visiting Detroit Mercy Law, May 12, 2022

    Co-Presenter “US/Canada Family Reunification Cases”, Young Center for Immigrant Rights, May 16, 2022.

    Co-presenter “US/Canada Border issues” Jesuit Migration Network of US/CAN - March 23, 2022

    Panelist “Bridges not Fences V”, University of Detroit Mercy, March 1, 2022

    Discussion Group Moderator on "The US-Canada border in the age of COVID", Canadian Council for Refugees, Fall Consultation, November 27, 2020

    "How Does Trump Prevent Asylum Claims in the United States?" video for "Move in Generations" on US asylum restrictions.

    Presenter, Multilingual Safe Third Country Video Series (for distribution to immigrant communities): July, August 2020 with upcoming revisions.,

    "Safe Third Country Agreement and the U.S. Canada Border", interview with Amjambo Africa on November 5, 2020,,,,

    Panelist on "No Right Way for Asylum Seekers" Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, October 26, 2020,

    Panelist on "VAWA, T, U Visas" Annual Conference, American Immigration Lawyers Association, July 20, 2020

    Panelist on "COVID19 and Migrants in the Americas" Ignatian Solidarity Network, April 27, 2020

    Panelist on "Border Issues, Rumours and Realities" Canadian Council for Refugees National Fall Consultation, Ottawa, November 29, 2019.

    "Take Back the Night and Day and Night" Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness Across Cultures, Detroit Mercy School of Law, October 22, 2019.

    "Asylum and Refugee Law", Albion College visit to Detroit Mercy Law, 1/09/2019

    "Panelist on Borders and Black Asylum Seekers", University of Toronto Caribbean Solidarity Network, March, 29, 2018.

    Panelist on Project Ploughshares/Canadian Council of Churches Immigration Engagement, Waterloo, Ontario, April 10, 2018

    Panelist with Detroit Mercy ACS and HiLSA Immigration Event/ April 11, 2018, Detroit Mercy Law

    Presenter on US Immigration and US Canada Border issues at Interclinical Meeting, Neighborhood Legal Services, Toronto, April 13, 2018

    Presenter on US Immigration and US Canada Border issues at Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Toronto, April 25, 2018

    "Seeking Refugee Status in Canada", African Bureau of Immigration, Social Affairs, 1/13/2018

    "Asylum and Refugee Law," Albion College visit to Detroit Mercy Law, 1/10/2018

    "Irregular Crossings from the US", Canadian Council for Refugees Fall Convening, 11/02/2017

    "Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals", Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, 9/25/2017

    "Advising Students During Uncertain Times.", Mid-West Association of Pre-Law Advisors (MAPLA) Conference Wayne State University, 9/22/2017

    Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers - Windsor Chapter, Panel Discussion "American vs. Canadian Immigration Law", University of Windsor, 2/6/2017

    Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers - Windsor Chapter, Panel Discussion "American vs. Canadian Immigration Law", University of Windsor, 2/6/2017

    Oakland County Bar Association, Pro-Bono Mentor Match Training, Visas for Crime Victims, 1/27/2017

    Detroit Mercy Faculty of Law, "Know Your Rights Panel", University of Detroit Mercy main campus, 1/19/2017

    “Sanctuary Teach in”, Panel Discussion, Department of History, University of Michigan, 1/11/2017

    "Immigration Law as Vocation" Ave Maria Fall Fest, Ann Arbor, MI, 11/19/2016 Detroit Mercy Law, Dean's Advisory Board Presentation by new faculty, 10/22/2016

    "Asylum and Refugee Law, with Acid Survivor Nurjahan Khatun", Detroit Mercy Law, 1/6/2016 Albion College, Albion, MI, 10/13/2016

    University of Detroit Mercy, Mission Micro-grant presentation, 09/22/2016

    National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month Seminar presentation: Working with Victims of Crime, Presentation to Law Enforcement Agencies, Homeland Security Investigations, Detroit, MI 1/28/2016

    "DHS Deferred Action Programs", Presentation to Mexican Consulate-Detroit's "Labor Week" program, 9/3/2015