NEW YORK – The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University announced today that Cristian Farias has joined the Institute as a writer-in-residence. During his residency, Farias, whose past work has focused on the intersection of law and politics, will undertake a major investigative project focused on freedom of expression and the U.S. border. Farias will be at the Knight Institute through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

“International borders have always supplied governments with opportunities for censorship and surveillance, but in recent years, governments hostile to migrants have been exploiting new technologies to intrude on privacy and restrict free expression in new ways,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight First Amendment Institute’s Executive Director. “Cristian Farias is a subtle legal thinker and a wonderful writer, and we are excited to have the opportunity to work with him in examining and bringing attention to these poorly understood threats to our open society.”

Until recently, Farias was a member of the editorial board at The New York Times, where he covered the U.S. Supreme Court, criminal justice, civil rights, and other legal issues. Before that, he was a legal columnist for New York Magazine, a Supreme Court reporter for The Huffington Post, and has written for The New RepublicSlateThe New York Review of Books, and other publications. In addition, Farias has served as a writer-in-residence at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and was a legal editor for Radiolab’s More Perfect, a podcast about the Supreme Court. Before he attended law school, Farias was also a probation officer in the New Jersey court system.

“I’m thrilled to be collaborating with the Knight Institute to think through the pressing legal questions that arise around free speech and immigration,” said Farias. “We should all be alarmed when our government is routinely detaining and harassing journalists at our borders, chilling advocacy by immigrants and immigrants’ rights groups, and treating citizens’ electronic devices as open books.”

“Cristian is a smart and thoughtful journalist who also brings a critical eye to legal reporting. We’re delighted to have him join us and eager to get to work on illuminating the many free expression concerns raised by the U.S. government’s operations around immigration and border entry,” said Katy Glenn Bass, the Knight Institute’s Research Director. 

For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny,, 646-745-8510.