Welcoming Refugees: Policy and Personal Perspectives
Join Penn State Law for a panel discussion on the world refugee crisis, exploring both the public policy implications and the frontlines of refugee resettlement in the United States. Confirmed guests include:
- Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Herman Stern Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Institute for International Law and Public Policy, Temple University
- Madap Sharma, Refugee Site Director, Lutheran Children and Family Service
- Bilal Al Tememi, Senior Resettlement Case Worker, Lutheran Children and Family Service
- Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Director, Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic (moderator)
This event is free and open to the public. The Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board has been approved this program for 1.5 hours of substantive law, practice, and procedure credit and 0.0 hours of ethics, substance abuse, and professionalism credit.
Herman Stern Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Institute for International Law and Public Policy, Temple University
Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales specializes in immigration law, international law, procedure and process. She currently teaches civil procedure, evidence, gender and migration, and refugee law and policy. Ramji-Nogales’ research areas include empirical assessment of asylum adjudication, international and comparative migration law, and transitional justice.
Along with her Georgetown University co-authors, Ramji-Nogales has published several quantitative and qualitative studies of the U.S. asylum system. Their first study, "Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication and Proposals for Reform," was the first empirical study of decision-making at all four levels of the American asylum process. Their most recent co-authored study, "Lives in the Balance: Asylum Adjudication by the Department of Homeland Security," provides an in-depth examination of the first level of that process, enriching its quantitative findings with interviews and surveys of asylum adjudicators. Both works offer suggestions for systemic reform.
Ramji-Nogales also explores questions of process and systemic design in the transitional justice context. Her work in that field suggests that existing efforts are under-theorized and inadequately tailored to local contexts and offers a pluralist theory to guide future transitional justice projects. As a senior legal adviser to the Documentation Center of Cambodia for over 15 years, Ramji-Nogales has authored several pieces on transitional justice in Cambodia, the lessons of which inform all of her work in the field. She is also the co-editor of Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice: Prosecuting Mass Violence Before the Cambodian Courts.
Finally, Ramji-Nogales writes in the field of international and comparative migration law, focusing on forced migration as well as the intersection of immigration and international human rights law. Her most recent work critiques human rights law as insufficiently attentive to the interests of undocumented migrants. Ramji-Nogales has also written on the situation of forced migrants under international criminal law and international humanitarian law. She is a senior research associate of the Refugee Law Initiative of the School for Advanced Studies at the University of London.
Prior to joining academia, Ramji-Nogales practiced law as a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York and as an associate at the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. She was previously awarded a Robert L. Bernstein Fellow in International Human Rights to create a refugee law clinic at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ramji-Nogales received a B.A. with highest honors from the University of California at Berkeley; a J.D., in 1999, from the Yale Law School; and an LL.M. with distinction from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Ramji-Nogales is a senior editor of the IntLawGrrls blog.
Refugee Site Director, Lutheran Children and Family Service
Madhav (Madap) Sharma is from Surey, a beautiful hill-town in Sarbhang district in Southern Bhutan, from which he fled in 1991 to escape religious and ethnic persecution. Sharma’s pursuit for education took him to various places in Nepal and India during which he experienced life’s oddities the hard way. He earned his first master’s degree in English from Tribhuwan University in Nepal and a second master’s degree in Sociology from Kumaon Univeristy in Nainital, India. He then completed a Master of Philosophy in English Language Education from English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad, India.
Sharma extensively contributed in English language development in Nepal, where he worked as a trainer of teachers for various secondary education development units and traveled to remote districts of the country preparing reflective teachers and sharing pedagogic and andragogic skills he had garnered through his academic experience. He founded an English school in Far West Nepal, focusing primarily on educating girls in the region, and today the school is one of the largest English schools in the region, serving over 1,600 students. In recognition of the services Sharma rendered in development of English education in the country, he was awarded the country’s highest civilian honor, the Prabal Gorkha Dakshin Bahu, in 2004. However, this success had a tragic ending as Sharma again became a refugee, threatened to be persecuted by the local administration if he lived in the district for more than 48 hours. He fled to India and later returned to Nepal and to serve as the principal of Himalayan WhiteHouse International College, a leading seat of higher education, where he taught communicative English.
Upon his resettlement to the United States in early 2010, Sharma worked for Baltimore City Community College as an adjunct faculty member in English as a Second Language (ESL) and later as a full-time faculty member at Stratford University in Virginia, where he taught reading and critical thinking in addition to working with international students in acculturating them to the American system. Upon moving to Philadelphia in early 2012, he founded the Bhutanese American Organization of Philadelphia and worked extensively in helping the community with ESL classes and integrating them into the American system.
Sharma has worked for Lutheran Children and Family Service, a nonprofit organization, with Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Roslyn, Pa., for about four years, and currently, serves as site director for adult refugee resettlement at Lutheran Refugee Services in Lancaster, Pa. He is profoundly involved with refugees and envisions of a world where no individual has to flee one’s country of birth simply because he or she wears a different dress, speaks a different language, or practices a different faith from the rulers.
Bilal Al Tememi
Senior Resettlement Case Worker, Lutheran Children and Family Service
Bilal Al Tememi comes from the historical city of Baghdad, Iraq. He was born in a middle of war zone between two neighboring countries, Iraq and Iran.
Al Tememi completed his education as a software engineer at the University of Baghdad in 2007 and started his career as IT specialist. When the United States' Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, Al Tememi side by side with U.S. forces as a linguist and cultural adviser. He was admitted to the United States as a refugee in 2010 due to fear of persecution and the threat of al-Qaida.
Al Tememi started his career as a job developer with Lutheran Refugee Services in 2011 and by dint of his hard work in helping refugees find jobs and his motivation to relive his life in a new country, he was recognized with an Excellence in Service Award from the Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program and the Bureau of Employment and Training.
In his current role of senior resettlement case worker at Lutheran Refugee Services, Al Tememi assists new refugees as they establish themselves in the United States.
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Moderator)
Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Center for Immigrants' Rights, Penn State Law
Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is an expert on immigration law and one of the nation’s leading scholars on the role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law. Her scholarship in this area has served as a foundation for scholars, advocates, and government officials seeking to understand or design a strong prosecutorial discretion policy. Her work identifies the historical role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law, the extent to which some acts of discretion operate as a benefit, and the dynamic role and need for transparency, sound procedures, and accountability. Her work has been published by Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Harvard Latino Law Review, Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal, Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Texas Law Review, Howard Law Journal, among others. Her book Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases was published by New York University Press in 2015.
At Penn State Law, Wadhia teaches doctrinal courses in immigration and asylum and refugee law. She is also the founder/director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, where students produce practitioner toolkits, white papers, and primers of national impact on behalf of client organizations. Clients have included the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First, Kids in Need of Defense, the National Guestworker Alliance, National Immigrant Justice Center, among others. At the Center, students also provide community outreach and education on immigration topics and legal support in individual cases of immigrants challenging deportation (removal). The Center also conducts group rights presentations for immigration detainees held at the Clinton County Jail.
Wadhia has appeared on national television and radio stations, including MSNBC and C-SPAN and has been quoted or featured by international, national, and local publications, including The Hill, National Law Journal, The Washington Post, NBC News, The Associated Press, and The Economist Blog, among others.
Prior to joining Penn State, Professor Wadhia was deputy director for legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. She has been honored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Inspector General and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and in 2003, she was named Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. She has also been an associate with Maggio Kattar, P.C. in Washington, D.C., where she handled asylum, deportation, and employment-based immigration benefits matters.
Syrian Refugees and Moral Courage, by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Centre Daily Times, Nov. 21, 2015)
History, Hysteria, and Syrian Refugees, by Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Just Security, Nov. 21, 2015)
Here's What the Refugee Screening Process Looks Like (WhiteHouse.gov Video)
Refugee 101 (UNHCR Video)