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Immigration law clinic honored with ‘Excellence in Legal Advocacy’ Award

The Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic will be honored with the Excellence in Legal Advocacy Award at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's National Convention this month.
Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic | Penn State Law

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia and the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have been busy. At the 2017 American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) National Convention, their efforts will be recognized as Wadhia, the founder and director of the clinic, accepts the Excellence in Legal Advocacy Award. The clinic’s collaboration with ADC has spanned nearly a decade, when it first issued a report on the 9-11 registry program known as the National Security Entry and Exit Registration System.

The convention, which will be held September 21-24 in Washington, D.C., will feature several expert speakers, including Wadhia. Her presentation, entitled “No Ban, No Wall, No Raids – Resisting Trump’s Immigration Policies,” will take place in the afternoon of September 23, following her acceptance of the Excellence in Legal Advocacy Award at the Annual Civil Rights Luncheon.

“It is truly an honor to accept the Excellence on Legal Advocacy Award on behalf of Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic,” said Wadhia. “On behalf of ADC, law students in the clinic have had the opportunity to help draft policy reports on special registration, summarize the contents of President Trump’s Executive Orders and organize sessions on the impact of immigration policies on Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities. On an individual level, I have had the challenge and privilege to collaborate with ADC on critical issues emerging the wake of 9/11 and beyond. Receiving this award is a full circle moment.”

The ADC is a civil rights organization committed to protecting the rights of people of Arab descent while promoting mutual understanding and preserving cultural heritage. The ADC has been a client of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, where the two continue to collaborate on matters relating to the impact of the 2016 presidential election on Arab and Muslim communities. More recently, the clinic has conducted legal research and analysis on potential challenges to recent immigration executive orders and prepared written summaries and memos in partnership with the ADC.

Wadhia and the clinic have worked tirelessly to keep the local community and the greater national audience informed of the rapid changes to immigration law since the Presidential Election in 2016. Initiatives have included multiple information sessions regarding executive orders, both within the law school and in collaboration with the State College community; a statewide teach-in featuring immigration law experts from across Pennsylvania; the development of several fact sheets and summary pages; and the creation and maintenance of an “Immigration After the Election” web page that assembles resources from the clinic and reliable outside sources to aid the communities most affected by the changing immigration climate: immigrants, educators, and community allies.

The clinic is now preparing for the 2017-18 academic year, with new cases and projects on the docket. While the work with the ADC and Muslim Advocates, an organization that fights for civil rights for Americans of all faiths, will continue, several other collaborations also remain a priority, including with the State College Borough. On behalf of the Center for American Progress, the clinic will write a research report on the lived experience of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries who are currently attending or have graduated from a law school in the U.S. The clinic will also undertake a pro-bono case for a client seeking a U Visa, which is a visa provided for victims of certain crimes involving physical or mental abuse who are helpful to law enforcement in the investigation of criminal activity. Wadhia and her students will tackle this project list while continuing to provide community outreach and resources to those affected by ever-evolving immigration laws and regulations. 

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