UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Law students in the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic spent the month of April conducting outreach to the local community. The clinic held events for local government officials, church groups, and the local bar centering on President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration, including expansions to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs.
Two clinic students, Joey Figueroa and Tulsi Patel, made two presentations in one week for varying audiences about the legal implications of DACA and DAPA. The first was a one-hour continuing legal education (CLE) presentation to the Centre County Bar Association, outlining the immigration programs and incorporating the latest developments following the president’s executive actions. Later that week, Figueroa and Patel and discussed the executive actions on immigration with the State College Borough at a public meeting that included the mayor of State College, Borough Council members, and the public. The presentation was recorded for broadcast on the local government’s television station.
DACA and DAPA provide temporary permission through a type of prosecutorial discretion called “deferred action” for certain non-citizens to lawfully remain in the United States. Initiated in 2012, DACA offers protections to certain people who entered the United States before the age of 16 who are pursuing education, whereas the DAPA program provides deferred action for parents in the United States who have children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and have been in the U.S. since before 2010, among other qualifications. As part of their outreach, students at the clinic also described the litigation pending at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that has placed the extended DACA and DAPA programs on hold.
Also this April, law students Nailah Williams and Weiyue Zhu led a discussion at the University Mennonite Church on how immigration enforcement impacts communities and families. Their presentation focused on recent policy developments, an immigration raid in State College that grabbed headlines last year, and how federal immigration policy impacts the local community. The University Mennonite Church is a local congregation, with a commitment to community education and a concern for social justice.
The Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic 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. Students also engage in community outreach and education and provide legal support in individual immigration cases.