Maureen Sweeney

Law School Professor and Director of the Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice




(410) 706-3922


(410) 706-5856

Photo of Maureen Sweeney


  • BA, 1984, Wesleyan University
  • JD, 1989, Yale Law School


Professor Maureen Sweeney has directed the Immigration Clinic at Maryland Carey Law since 2004 and the Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice since its founding in 2020. She also teaches Immigration Law and Practicing Law in Spanish and is the faculty advisor of the student Immigration Law and Policy Association.

Professor Sweeney puts into action the ideal of engaged scholarship, primarily in the fields of asylum law and the law of immigration consequences of criminal convictions. She is the principal author of a chart for criminal defense practitioners of the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions Under Maryland State Law, and has spoken and trained widely in the state on this topic. Her publications include Enforcing/Protection: The Danger of Chevron in Refugee Act Cases, 71 Administrative Law Review 127 (2019), which argues that federal courts should not give Chevron deference to decisions by the immigration court system because of the agency’s principal identity as a law enforcement agency and because the administrative law principles supporting Chevron do not apply in the context of humanitarian protection; Shadow Immigration Enforcement and Its Constitutional Dangers, 104 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 227 (2014), addressing the dangers of the entanglement of criminal law enforcement in immigration enforcement; and Fact or Fiction: The Legal Construction of Immigration Removal for Crimes, 27 Yale Journal on Regulation 47 (2010), an article that explains much of the theoretical, statutory, and enforcement background behind the Supreme Court’s 2010 Padilla v. Kentucky decision, in which the court required criminal defense counsel to advise about possible immigration consequences of a proposed plea.

Professor Sweeney has collaborated with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender to develop a statewide response to support and train defense attorneys to carry out their responsibilities under Padilla. She serves on the board of directors of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and on advisory committees for the ACLU of Maryland, Kids in Need of Defense in Baltimore, and the Annapolis Immigration Justice Network. She is the recipient of the 2020 University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Public Servant of the Year Award, the 2019 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service, the 2017 Public Service Award from the Hispanic Bar Association, and the 2016 Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award from Maryland Legal Services.

Prior to coming to the law school, Professor Sweeney worked at Associated Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in Baltimore; the Migrant Legal Action Program in Washington, DC; Farmworker Legal Services of North Carolina in Raleigh, North Carolina; and the Texas Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance in Houston, Texas.

When the weather is good, Professor Sweeney likes to commute to work by bicycle from the home she shares in Baltimore City with her husband. She also likes to garden, hike, watch birds and spend time with her three adult children.


Detention as Deterrent: Denying Justice to immigrants and Asylum Seekers, 36 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 291 (2021) (with Sirine Shebaya and Dree K. Collopy).

Enforcing/Protection: The Danger of Chevron in Refugee Act Cases, 71 Administrative Law Review 127 (2019). Abstract

Shadow Immigration Enforcement and its Constitutional Dangers, 104 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 227 (2014). Abstract

Where do We Go from Padilla v. Kentucky? Thoughts on Implementation and Future Directions, 45 New England Law Review 353 (2011). Abstract

Penalty and Proportionality in Deportation for Crimes, 31 Saint Louis University Public Law Review 11 (2012) (with Hillary Scholten). Abstract

Fact or Fiction: the Legal Construction of Immigration Removal for Crimes, 27 Yale Journal on Regulation 47 (2010). Abstract

A Check on the Real Realities of Immigraton: A Reflection, 5 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class 261 (2005). Abstract