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Immigration clinic students craft report on Georgia immigration detention centers


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Project South, a client of Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, has released a new report on immigrant detention centers that was drafted and edited by clinic students. “Imprisoned Justice: Inside Two Georgia Immigrant Detention Centers” documents the conditions of the Stewart Detention Center and the Irwin County Detention Center, both in Georgia, through interviews with detained immigrants and the attorneys who represent them.

Working under the supervision of Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Penn State Law students Kritika Bedi, Susanna Chehata, Brianni Frazier, and Shushan Sadjadi worked on the report over the course of two semesters. In addition to conducting extensive research and drafting the report itself, the students surveyed 14 attorneys representing detainees at the two detention centers and conducted follow-up phone interviews with many of them about the conditions their clients face in the two detention centers.

The report finds that the conditions at the two detention centers “neither comply with the international standards of detention nor do they comply with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s] Performance-Based National Detention Standards.” Ultimately, the report calls on the Department of Homeland Security to close the two detention centers and implement policies to hold contract facilities accountable for not complying with established standards.

For the students involved, crafting the report was an opportunity to exercise their legal research and writing skills on behalf of an actual client. It also provided them with new perspectives on the real-life impact of the law.

“Working on this report was an enriching academic experience, but more importantly, an enriching humanistic experience,” said Chehata. “As a law student, I learned that our laws and regulations fall short of fully serving those within our borders, and that as a result, thousands of immigrants are subject to inhumane treatment.”

“The Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic was honored to work on this report for Project South,” said Wadhia. “The project allowed our law students to gain a diverse range of legal skills as well as heavy exposure to the human dimension of immigration detention.”

One of nine clinics at Penn State Law, the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic produces white papers, practitioner toolkits, and primers of national impact for institutional clients based in Washington, D.C., and across the nation. The clinic also engages in community outreach and education and provides legal support in individual cases of immigrants challenging deportation or seeking protection with DHS and in the courts.

Institutional affiliation for faculty and students in the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic is provided for identification purposes only and does not represent the views of the institution.

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