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Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia - on leave

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

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. Her work has been published in numerous law journals, including Duke Law Journal, Emory Law Journal, Texas Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, Harvard Latino Law Review, Administrative Law Review, Howard Law Journal, Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, and Columbia Journal of Race and Law. Wadhia is the author of two award-winning books with New York University Press: Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases (2015) and Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump (2019). She is also the author of Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Solutions, (w. Steve Yale-Loehr and Lenni Benson), published by Carolina Academic Press.

Wadhia’s scholarship has been cited in dozens of law journals and by numerous federal circuit courts, 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), Judge Julius N. Richardson (co-authored article and Chevron deference and immigration), and Judge Andrew S. Oldham (co-authored article on Chevron deference and immigration). 

Wadhia served as the inaugural Editor-In-Chief of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Law Journal from 2019-2022. She has testified before Congress on the history of prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases and the civil rights and discrimination in Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. In 2019, she served as the Enlund Scholar In Residence at DePaul University School of Law.  

Wadhia has written or been quoted by numerous media outlets, including New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hill, SCOTUS blog, blog of the Harvard Law Review, American Constitution Society, 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 also helped to develop a course on Law & (In)equity. Wadhia is 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. 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.

Prior to joining Penn State, Professor Wadhia was deputy director for legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C., where she provided legal and policy expertise on multiple legislative efforts, including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, comprehensive immigration reform, immigration enforcement, and immigration policy post 9-11. Wadhia has also been an associate with the immigration law firm, Maggio Kattar of P.C. in Washington, D.C., where she represented individuals and families in asylum, deportation, family, and employment-based immigration.

Wadhia has received many awards, 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. In 2020, Wadhia received the university-wide Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award and was named a Fastcase 50 Awardee, which honors 50 of "the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, & leaders." In 2022, Wadhia was a recipient of the President’s Commendation and the Michael Maggio Pro Bono Award (Afghan Response Taskforce) by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Wadhia was elected to the American Law Institute in 2021. 

Jump to:
Academic Press Books
Articles in in Law Reviews 
Book Chapters and Shorter Works
Opinion Pieces and Op-Eds
Publications by the Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic

Academic Press Books

Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies, Second Edition (w. Lenni Benson and Steve Yale-Loehr) (Carolina Academic Press) (2020).

Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump (New York University Press, 2021, paperback; 2019, hardcover).

Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases (New York University Press 2017, paperback; 2015, hardcover).

Articles in Lew Reviews 

Discretion and Disobedience in the Chinese Exclusion Era, Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley, (forthcoming 2022)

The Decitizenship of Asian American Women, (w. Margaret Hu), Col. L. Rev., Vol. 93 (2022).

The Case Against Chevron Deference in Immigration Adjudication, (w. Chris Walker), Duke Law Journal, Vol. 70, (2021). (selected contribution to fifty-first annual administrative law symposium)

Darkside Discretion in Immigration Cases, 72 Admin. L. Rev. 3. (2020).

National Security, Immigration and the Muslim Bans,  75 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1475 (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 Rise of Speed Deportation and the Role of Discretion, 5 Colum. J. Race & L. 1 (2015).

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

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

In Expert Defense of DACA, Immigr. & Nat’y L. Rev. (2021) (with Kevin Johnson)

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).

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

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).​

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

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 and Shorter Works 

Oxford University Press, Oxford Handbook of Comparative Immigration Law Contributors, Comparative Issues in Who is Admitted (forthcoming 2023)

Cambridge University Press, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Immigration Law Opinions, Rewritten Opinion of Plyler v. Doe (forthcoming 2023)

"Migration and the American Dream" (in the Routledge Handbook of the American Dream), (2021).

COVID-19 and Immigration: Reflections From the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic (w. Kaitlyn Box) in Frontiers Dynamics (2020).

"Immigration in the Time of COVID-19" (in the book "Law in the Time of COVID-19"), Columbia Law School (2020).

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).

"The Ties that Bind: How U.S. Immigration Laws Value Long-Time Residency," in American Immigration Council (2018)

A Legacy of Exclusion and Racism Followed the Tragedy of 9/11, Phila. Inquirer (Sept. 4, 2021)

Prosecutorial Discretion in a Biden Administration, Part 3, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (June 5, 2021)

Prosecutorial Discretion in the Biden Administration: Part 2, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Feb. 18, 2021)

Prosecturial Discretion in the Biden Administration, Yale J. on Reg: Notice & Comment (Jan. 21, 2021)

Biden ends the ‘Muslim ban’ on day one of his presidency but its legacy will linger, Phila. Inquirer (Jan. 20, 2021)

“The Cruelty Is the Point”: U.S. Still Denying Protection to Severely Ill People With No Legal Status— Despite Announcing Otherwise, MS. Magazine (Sept. 28, 2020) (with Mahsa Khanbabai and Audrey Allen)

Stay off our Streets: Federal troops storming cities undermine American Ideals, Phila. Inquirer (July 22, 2020)

Banning Immigrants, ABA Human Rights Magazine (2020) (with Mahsa Khanbabai)

From the travel ban to the border wall, restrictive immigration policies thrive on the shadow docket, Scotusblog (Oct. 27, 2020)

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