The Center for Immigrants’ Rights is an immigration policy clinic at Penn State Law under the direction of Professor and immigration expert Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia. At the Center, students produce white papers, practitioner toolkits, and primers of national impact on behalf of client organizations. Students have also led community legal education on remedies such as deferred action for childhood arrivals and options for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Center has also worked on individual cases involving immigration detainees at held at York County Prison. Working in teams, students build professional relationships with government and nongovernmental policymakers, academics, individual clients, and others.
Since the Center’s establishment in 2008, clients have included the American Bar Association (ABA), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Immigration Council (AIC), Human Rights First, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), and the National Immigration Project (NLGNIP), among others. Finally, the Center has hosted symposia on a regular basis with nationally recognized experts on specialized topics such as immigration reform, adjudications and refugee issues.
Professor Wadhia’s teaching goal is for students to gain the skills required to be effective immigration advocates and attorneys. This requires a combined understanding and appreciation for immigration law, policy, and politics, and the relationships between them. Students have primary responsibility in making project-related decisions, reflecting deliberatively on their work, and collaborating with clients to achieve positive results. Students acquire essential practical and substantive knowledge of immigration lawyering and advocacy through project specific work; a weekly two-hour class session and assigned readings; case rounds and weekly case meetings; and a visit to York County Prison, York Immigration Court, and the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center.