UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar, clinical professor of law, and director of the Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park, will be appointed to the position of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer (CRCL) in the Department of Homeland Security. This is a presidential appointment during which Wadhia will take a leave of absence from Penn State Law.
The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties supports the Department of Homeland Security in providing security for the nation while “preserving individual liberty, fairness, and equality under the law.” CRCL also includes civil rights practices in the Department’s activities and takes steps to advance them within the Department.
“This is a full circle moment for me,” said Wadhia, reflecting on her career as an immigration attorney, policy advocate where she engaged in legislative advocacy surrounding the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and her work at Penn State where she teaches students about the role of federal agencies and the intersection of immigration and administrative law.
Victor Romero, interim dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs, Maureen B. Cavanaugh Distinguished Faculty Scholar, and professor of law said, “We’re deeply proud of Shoba and all her accomplishments at Penn State Law, and we’re excited to see what she achieves in her new position as the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer. She’s a shining example of excellence and leadership in the legal community. We wish her the best of luck during her appointment and eagerly wait for her to share her experiences with the students at Penn State Law upon her return.”
Wadhia looks forward to bringing her experience as CRCL Officer back to the classroom and sharing her work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and contributions more broadly to Penn State Law and beyond. Her teaching courses include Asylum and Refugee Law, Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Immigration Law, and Law and (In)equity.
“Bringing back my experience at DHS will help me enrich the classroom experience for my students and broaden my lens on the internal work of agencies, and how institutions can respond or reform issues through an equity lens,” said Wadhia.
Wadhia’s extensive bio includes published works, scholarship, awards, pro bono work, and more. She has authored 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.
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 founder and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC), which 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, 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. She is a 1999 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.