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Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic

SSRN Profile
Curriculum Vitae

(814) 865-3823

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

Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is the Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law at Penn State Law in University Park. Her 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 and Lee Law Review, Harvard Latino Law Review, and Columbia Journal of Race and Law. Wadhia’s first book, Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases, was published by New York University Press in 2015, and named an honorable mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her new book, Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump, was released in 2019 by New York University Press. Wadhia has also co-authored an immigration textbook, Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Solutions, with Steve Yale-Loehr and Lenni Benson, published by Carolina Academic Press in 2019.

In 2018, Wadhia was named the inaugural Editor-In-Chief of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Law Journal, a partnership between AILA and Fastcase. In 2019, she served as the Enlund Scholar In Residence at DePaul University School of Law. Her scholarship has been cited in numerous law journals and by federal appellate court judges, including Judge Richard Posner (article on deferred action), Judge Paul J. Watford (article on the role of discretion in speed deportation), and Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (“See generally” citation to book Beyond Deportation).

In 2019, Wadhia testified before Congress on the historical role of prosecutorial discretion and deferred action in immigration cases. She regularly authors opinion pieces on a range of immigration topics, and has published such pieces in the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hill, blog for the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS Blog), blog of the Harvard Law Review, American Constitution Society, American Immigration Council, Yale Journal on Regulation’s Notice & Comment, and Immigration Law Professors Blog. She has also served as an expert witness, lead author or co-counsel in connection with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the asylum ban, the travel ban, and prosecutorial discretion more generally.

At Penn State Law, Professor Wadhia teaches doctrinal courses in immigration and asylum and refugee law. She is also the founder/director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC), where she supervises students in three areas: 1) community outreach; 2) legal support in individual immigration cases; and 3) policy work for institutional clients. CIRC has earned a national reputation for its high-quality work product and impact in the community. Since the presidential election of 2016, CIRC has reached hundreds of individuals and families and served as a clearinghouse for the community and nationally on changing immigration law and policy. CIRC has also been involved in groundbreaking work with the State College municipality. Individually or with students in CIRC, they helped to develop a written policy for the State College Police Department on immigration, trained police officers on immigration, and drafted resolutions for the municipality on immigration enforcement and inclusion. In Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, CIRC students spent several days at a family detention facility, preparing parents and children for interviews with asylum officers and acting as advocates during the actual interviews. 2018 marked the 10-year anniversary of CIRC. CIRC was honored with the Excellence in Legal Advocacy Award in 2017 by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and named legal organization of the year in 2019 by the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center.

Wadhia has received many local and national awards for my scholarship, teaching, and service, including Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in 2003, leadership awards by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of the Inspector General in 2008, 2017 Honoree by the National Immigration Project, Arnold Addison Award for Town and Gown Relations by the Borough of State College in 2019, and the 2019 Elmer Friend Excellence in Teaching Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.    

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, family, and employment-based immigration benefits matters.

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


Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies, Second Edition (2019, Carolina Academic Press)

Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump (2019, New York University Press)

Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases (2015, New York University Press).

Law Journals

"Immigration Litigation in the Time of Trump," 53 UC Davis L. Rev. Online 121 (2019).

"Americans in Waiting: Finding Solutions for Long Term Residents," 46 J. Legis. 29 (2019).

"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 Role 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