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Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar
Clinical Professor of Law  
Director, Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic
Instructor of Education (EDLDR)

SSRN Profile
Curriculum Vitae

(814) 865-3823

J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
B.A., Indiana University, with honors

Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is an expert on immigration law whose research focuses on the role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law and the intersections of race, national security, and immigration. She has published more than thirty law review articles, book chapters, and essays on immigration law. Her work has been published in Emory Law Journal; Texas Law Review; Washington & Lee Law Review, Columbia Journal of Race and Law; Notice & Comment, Yale Journal on Regulation; Harvard Latino Law Review; Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal; Georgetown Immigration Law Journal; and Howard Law Journal. Her scholarship has been cited in hundreds of works and also by federal court judges, including Judge Richard Posner, Judge Paul J. Watford, and Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw. Her first book, Beyond DeportationThe Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases, was published by New York University Press, was published as a paperback in 2017 and named an honorable mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her second book, Banned, examines immigration enforcement during the first eighteen months of the Trump administration and will be published by New York University Press in 2019. Wadhia is also working on the second edition of an immigration case book with Steve Yale-Loehr and Lenni Benson, to be published in 2020 by Carolina Academic Press.

At Penn State Law, Wadhia teaches doctrinal courses in immigration and asylum and refugee law. She is also the founder and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC), an in-house clinic focused on three main areas: community outreach and education; pro bono support in immigration cases; and policy work for institutional clients across the country. Recently, students at CIRC worked on asylum cases for detained families, completed a report on the experiences of law students and lawyers with DACA, trained police officers in the State College Area Police Department on immigration, and completed a U application for a victim of crime. The CIRC celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2018 and enjoys a national reputation.

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 New York TimesNew York Times MagazineThe HillNational Law JournalWashington PostWall Street JournalRoll CallThe Atlantic and Associated Press, among others. 

Wadhia has been a recipient of numerous awards. In 2017, her clinic was honored with the Excellence in Legal Advocacy Award by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Wadhia was also named the 2017 Honoree by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.  Locally, she received the Faculty Diversity Award in 2017 by Penn State Law and the Spirit of Internationalization Award by Global Connections in 2016.  Wadhia has also 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 American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Wadhia sits on the Board of Trustees for the American Immigration Council and in 2018 was named the inaugural Editor-In-Chief of the AILA Law Journal. Wadhia has also been a lead or co-lead on law professor letters and amicus briefs pertaining to her expertise, including but not limited to DACA, the travel ban and recent asylum changes. She has also blogged for the American Constitution Society, American Immigration Council, Yale Journal on Regulation’s Notice & Comment, Immigration Professors Blog and most recently, Harvard Law Review.

Prior to joining Penn State, Professor Wadhia was deputy director for legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. 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.

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Law Journals
Book Chapters
Policy and Research Papers
Opinion Pieces and Op-Eds
Publications by the Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic


Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases (New York University Press).

Law Journals

"National Security, Immigration and the Muslim Bans,"  75 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1475 (2018).

"Immigration Enforcement and the Future of Discretion," 23 Roger Williams Univ. L. Rev. 2 (2018).

"Is Immigration Law National Security Law?," 66 Emory L.J. 669 (2017).

"Beyond Deportation: Understanding Immigration Prosecutorial Discretion and United States v. Texas," 36 Immigr. & Nat'lity L. Rev. 94 (2015).

"Demystifying Work Authorization and Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases," Colum. J. Race & L. 1 (2016).

"The Aftermath of United States v. Texas: Rediscovering Deferred Action," Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment Aug. 10, 2016 (2016).

"The President and Deportation: DACA, DAPA, and the Sources and Limits of Executive Authority - Response to Hiroshi Motomura," 55 Washburn L.J. 189 (2016). 

"Remarks on Executive Action and Immigration Reform," 48 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 137 (2015).

The History of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law,” 64 Am. U. L. Rev. 101 (2015).​

The Rise of Speed Deportation and the Role of Discretion,” 5 Colum. J. Race & L. 1 (2015).

Immigration Remarks for the 10th Annual Wiley A. Branton Symposium,” 57 How. L.J. 931 (2014).

My Great FOIA Adventure and Discoveries of Deferred Action Cases at ICE,” 27 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 245 (2013).

Response, In Defense of DACA, Deferred Action, and the DREAM Act,” 91 Tex. L. Rev.: See Also 59  (2013).

The Immigration Prosecutor and the Judge: Examining the Role of the Judiciary in Prosecutorial Discretion Decisions,” 16 Harv. Latino L. Rev. 39 (2013).

Sharing Secrets: Examining Deferred Action and Transparency in Immigration Law,” 10 U. N.H.L. Rev. 1 (2012).

Business as Usual: Immigration and the National Security Exception,” 114 Penn St. L. Rev. 1485 (2010).

The History of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law,” 9 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 243 (2010) Reprinted in Immigration and Nationality Law Review, William S. Hein & Co.

Under Arrest: Immigrants’ Rights and the Rule of Law,” 28 U. Memphis L. Rev. 853 (2008).

The Policy and Politics of Immigrant Rights,” 16 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 387 (2007).

Immigration: Mind Over Matter,” 5 U. Md. L.J. Race, Religion, Gender, & Class 201 (2006).

Book Chapters

Carolina Academic Press, Book Chapter, "Dreams Deferred: Deferred Action, Prosecutorial Discretion, and the Vexing Case(s) of DREAM Act Students" in Law Professor and Accidental Historian (2017).

American Bar Association, “Who are the Players in Immigration Law?” in What Every Lawyer Should Know About Immigration Law  (2012).

Sage Publications, “The Term Illegal Alien,” in Debates on U.S. Immigration, (2012).

Policy and Research Papers

American Immigration Lawyers Association, Prosecutorial Discretion, Practice Advisory (w. A. Gallagher and A. Nunez) (2017).

American Immigration Lawyers Association, The Long and Winding Road of Prosecutorial Discretion, Practice Advisory (w. L. Wildes and P. Taurel) (2015).

"Immigration Law’s Catch-22: The Case for Removing the Three and Ten-Year Bars,” in LexisNexis Legal Newsroom Immigration Law  (LexisNexis, November 2014).

Reflections on Prosecutorial Discretion One Year After the Morton Memo,” in Emerging Issues Analysis  (LexisNexis, June 2012).

Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Agencies: A Year in Review,” in Emerging Issues Analysis  (LexisNexis, January 2012).

Immigration Policy Center, The Morton Memo and Prosecutorial Discretion: An Overview, (July 2011).

Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Council, Reading the Morton Memo: Federal Priorities and Prosecutorial Discretion, (December 2010).

"Letter to Lahore," The Subcontinental Vol. 1, Issue 3 (2004) (with Sin Yen Ling).

Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, Immigration Policy: Transition Blueprint for the Obama Administration, (2008) (contributor).

Opinion Pieces and Op-Eds  

Publications by the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic