Anna was a pioneer. A scholar of administrative and immigration law and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, Anna has a presence that was thoughtful, wise, and inclusive. I first met Anna while serving with the ABA Commission on Immigration. I was fortunate to watch her lead and spread her knowledge.
Even from afar, Anna was a true advocate for others. While she had done so much to contribute to the representation of women of color in the academy and leadership positions, she did not show off these contributions. Anna’s humility also meant that many had only a limited window into the wide subject areas she covered and the barriers she broke—I was one of them. Only after her death did I come to know more about Anna’s childhood and bravery during the civil rights era and beyond.
I was so fortunate to engage with Anna twice more recently. A group of Associate Deans for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) came together to start a conversation about building a section in AALS for Associate Deans in DEI. It was a privilege to “see” Anna on the zoom and to hear and start to build a vision with different generations of law faculty and administrators.
For some years, Anna talked about me coming to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to talk about our shared interests and my particular area of research: immigration. She was supportive and enthusiastic. While COVID-19 created some challenges, I was fortunate to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, in November 2021 to speak on immigrant exclusion in Lincoln and to meet the broader community. In conversations with students inside and outside of the classroom, it became immediately apparent that Anna was “legend.”
While I was in Lincoln, I had the chance to meet Anna’s immigration law class, a course she taught for many years. Anna’s students were bright and full of energy and asked many questions. The classroom topic was on civil disobedience and discretion during the Chinese Exclusion era. I was teaching the class in person and Anna was on the Zoom screen, her face and smile full. This is how I will remember Anna and also why her death months later came as such a shock to me. While in Lincoln, I had not realized Anna was unwell. I will miss her dearly, and know I had so much more to learn from her.
What does it mean to carry out Anna’s legacy? Anna was a woman full of grace, purpose, and lived experiences to match her deep knowledge and roles as a mentor and scholar. She is an example for all of us. Rest in Power Anna.
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is a law professor and immigration scholar at Penn State Law at University Park. She is the author of two books: Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases (NYU Press) and Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump (NYU Press).