David Martin

David A. Martin

Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law Emeritus
(434) 924-3144

A leading scholar in immigration, constitutional law and international law, David A. Martin has helped shape immigration and refugee policy while serving in several key U.S. government posts. He joined the Virginia law faculty in 1980, after a period of private practice in Washington, D.C., and service as special assistant to the assistant secretary in the State Department’s then-new human rights bureau. He has published numerous books and articles in scholarly journals, including a leading casebook on immigration and citizenship law, now in its eighth edition. His op-ed commentary has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vox, The Hill, the International Herald Tribune and The National Law Journal, among others.

As principal deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security from January 2009 to December 2010, and in earlier government service at the Department of State and the Department of Justice (including an appointment as general counsel to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1995-98), Martin was closely involved in critical legal and policy developments in the immigration field. These included the Refugee Act of 1980, a major alteration of U.S. asylum procedures in 1995, implementation of the 1996 statutory amendments to the immigration laws, Obama administration reforms of enforcement priorities and the detention system used in connection with immigration removal proceedings, and the federal government’s 2010 lawsuit against Arizona’s restrictive immigration enforcement law. He also served as DHS’ representative on the interdepartmental task forces created by President Obama’s executive orders for evaluating the cases of all detainees at Guantánamo and for reviewing overall detention policies in the battle against terrorism. Martin was appointed to the federal government’s Homeland Security Advisory Council in 2015. He served on the Council until July 2018 when, along with three other members, he resigned in protest of the administration’s policy of separating children in immigration detention from their parents. Martin has also been engaged since 2018 as an expert consultant to the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction.

A graduate of DePauw University and Yale Law School (where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal), Martin served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright and Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. He has held a German Marshall Fund Fellowship for research in Geneva, and in 1988 he chaired the Immigration Section of the Association of American Law Schools. From 2003 to 2005 he served as vice president of the American Society of International Law, and he was a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law from 2004 to 2014. Martin retired from teaching and took emeritus status at the University in 2016.

Scholarship Profile: A Trailblazer in Immigration and Refugee Law (Virginia Journal 2001)