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Immigration clinic creates toolkit for withholding-only proceedings

Clinic students and the Pennsylvania Immigrant Resource Center (PIRC) teamed up to make a practice guide for attorneys representing noncitizens in withholding-only proceedings.
Professor Shoba Wadhia and students

During “withholding only” proceedings an immigration judge can preserve the freedom of immigrants who fear torture and persecution in their home countries, but finding an attorney to make that case to a judge can be difficult. Immigration detention centers are often located in rural places with few immigration attorneys nearby. To bridge this gap, the Center for Immigrants’ Rights at Penn State Law and the Pennsylvania Immigrant Resource Center (PIRC) teamed up to create a toolkit for practitioners representing noncitizens in withholding only proceedings.

“Withholding only proceedings are critical hearings for individuals who express a reasonable fear of torture or persecution in their native countries," said Mary Weaver, executive director of PIRC, a nonprofit legal services firm located in York County, Pennsylvania. “This toolkit provides pro bono attorneys with the information they need that can change a client’s life.”

“Withholding only proceedings are critical hearings for individuals who express a reasonable fear of torture or persecution in their native countries," said Mary Weaver, executive director of PIRC, a nonprofit legal services firm located in York County, Pennsylvania. “This toolkit provides pro bono attorneys with the information they need that can change a client’s life—Mary Weaver, executive director of PIRC

 Available online, the toolkit features:

•   A summary of remedies available in withholding only proceedings

•   Explanations of relevant statutes and regulations

•   Explanation of the forms used by the Government and attorneys

•   Select case law

•   Practical tips for attorneys

“Withholding only” proceedings are a limited forum available to noncitizens who have expressed a fear of prosecution or torture in their home counties to an asylum officer. “Withholding of removal” and protection under the UN Convention Against Torture are mandatory forms of protection available in this forum, but there is very little information available to attorneys about how to navigate these proceedings, explained immigration expert and clinic director Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia. Under the supervision of Professor Wadhia, students Dongdong Zhou and Djami Diallo, both members of the Class of 2014 at Penn State Law, took on the project. They researched the primary sources, secondary sources, and related literature on withholding only proceedings and solicited information from attorneys and advocates about withholding only proceedings.

About the Center for Immigrants’ Rights

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 while working in teams to build professional relationships with policymakers, academics, clients, and others. For more information, visit law.psu.edu/practice-skills/clinics/center-immigrants-rights.

About the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center

The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) is a 501c(3) non-profit organization based in York, Pennsylvania, providing access to justice for vulnerable immigrants in detention and in the community through legal services, education and advocacy. 

View the Withholding-Only Toolkit

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