Mary Elizabeth Kramer is a leading authority on criminal immigration issues. In private practice for 29 years, her office is located in Miami, but her cases take her to courts, offices, and jails across the United States, as well as consulates around the world. Her practice is limited to immigration law, with a concentration on cases involving individuals charged with crime, or convicted and facing removal consequences. She provides immigration law perspective to individuals (and their defense attorneys) who are cooperating with law enforcement. She also handles complex political asylum matters. Her office also works on family visa cases, including consular processing and waivers. On any given day, you may find Ms. Kramer sitting at a USCIS office with an adjustment or naturalization applicant, at the immigration court, asylum office, federal court, or in the jail or detention center. In her research and writing, Mary brings to the table practical daily experience on real cases, large and small. Writing and public speaking are her passion, but at the end of the day, she is a lawyer—just like the attorneys who comprise her audience, and she understands what advocates need to know, how to apply the law in a real-life setting, and effectively communicate with officers, prosecutors, agents, and judges. Ms. Kramer lives the challenges of practicing law, representing clients and families, so she feels the “agony and the ecstasy” right along with you, the reader.
Ms. Kramer writes and speaks on a monthly (sometimes weekly) basis, for conferences, periodicals, and web/audio seminars. She is a former adjunct professor of law at Florida International University and is frequently called upon to teach at the Winning Strategies seminars conducted by federal public defenders and the Administrative Offices of U.S. Courts.
Ms. Kramer is a past president of the AILA South Florida Chapter and past chair of AILA’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Liaison Committee. She serves on AILA National’s Department of State Liaison Committee. In her local community, she is co-chair of the AILA South Florida Chapter’s ICE committee, and the Enforcement and Removal Operations committee, advocating for the community regarding policies and standards in detention centers and deportation offices. Ms. Kramer is a former president of the board of directors of Catholic Charities Legal Services, Inc., the largest legal services provider to low-income individuals in Florida. She is particularly proud of her 13 years of work on the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles AILA Liaison Committee, where she researched and advocated for the rights of non-U.S. citizens to qualify for driver licenses in the wake of the REAL ID Act.
In 2015, the AILA community honored Ms. Kramer with the prestigious Edith Lowenstein Award, for advancement in the practice of immigration law— perhaps the highest award given by the national immigration law community.
Ms. Kramer was a founding co-supervising attorney of the AILA South Florida Legal Assistance Project, a pro bono project serving the Miami immigration court. In November 2002, she and her mentor/friend, Alsie Lomangino (may she rest in peace), received the U.S. Attorney General’s Meritorious Public Service Award based on their work with this project. Ms. Kramer is a former chair of the Florida Bar’s Grievance Committee, and served many years on the Bar’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.
Ms. Kramer graduated cum laude from the College of Saint Benedict, in St. Joseph, MN, and earned her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. While in school, she interned for the Harlingen immigration court, and after graduation, worked as a judicial law clerk to the Miami immigration court. She is a member of the Wisconsin and Florida state bars, and admitted before the Southern District of Florida, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
On a personal note, Ms Kramer is married to Jose Alvarez, a Colombian-American. They enjoy spending their free time with Jose and Liz, their now-adult children. Mary returns frequently to her home state of Wisconsin, and also heads south to Cartagena and Barranquilla, Colombia. Enjoying the best of both worlds, she enjoys meeting all kinds of people and the diversity of culture in always exciting—often a challenge—Miami.