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Cases and Projects: 2019-2020

fall 2019 group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic Students, Spring 2020 and Fall 2019 (below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRO BONO ASYLUM CASE FOR EQUAL ACCESS LEGAL SERVICES

CIRC assisted an individual who is applying for asylum with the asylum office.

Asylum is a form of protection available to those who face persecution in their home country. To be eligible for asylum, an applicant must meet the definition of a refugee, which requires a person to show they have suffered persecution in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or memberships in a particular social group. The persecution must be by the government or a group the government is unable or unwilling to control. Asylum is discretionary, which means that officers and judges may determine that a person who meets the elements of asylum should be denied as a matter of discretion. The statute also outlines several restrictions on asylum. 

Equal Access Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm whose mission is to bridge the gap for those individuals or families that fall outside traditional accesses to legal services: free legal services or attorney fees at market value.

Learning Goals:

Communication and collaboration, legal research and analysis, and empathy


PRO BONO ASYLUM CASES ON BEHALF OF THE PENN LAW TRANSNATIONAL LEGAL CLINIC

CIRC assisted a family in applying for asylum before the Philadelphia Immigration Court.

Asylum is a form of protection available to those who face persecution in their home country. To be eligible for asylum, an applicant must meet the definition of a refugee, which requires a person to show they have suffered persecution in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or memberships in a particular social group. The persecution must be by the government or a group the government is unable or unwilling to control. Asylum is discretionary, which means that officers and judges may determine that a person who meets the elements of asylum should be denied as a matter of discretion. The statute also outlines several restrictions on asylum. 

The Transnational Legal Clinic is Penn Law’s international human rights and immigration clinic. Students in the Transnational Legal Clinic engage in the direct representation of clients and organizations in international human rights and immigration proceedings.

Learning Goals:

Communication and collaboration, legal research and analysis, and empathy


BOND HEARING OBSERVATIONS AT THE YORK IMMIGRATION COURT

The Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic worked in collaboration with the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic, Casa San Jose, and other immigration law clinics to coordinate volunteers attending bond hearings at the York Immigration Court and documenting their observations. This observation project brought greater transparency to the immigration bond process at the York Immigration Court and raised awareness about the realities of immigration detention by (1) recruiting volunteers from community groups, law schools, faith organizations, and others as court observers and (2) gathering information on bond hearings. Such information included the bases for judges’ bond decisions, the average amount of bond set in relation to the financial reality of the affected community, and other ongoing issues such as the quality of interpretation, access to legal counsel, and the technological challenges of video conference hearings.

Under federal immigration law, people subject to deportation proceedings may be imprisoned during their deportation case. Certain categories of people are eligible to ask an Immigration Judge to set a bond that would allow them to be released from prison if the bond is paid.  All people who are imprisoned by ICE in Pennsylvania have their bond hearings held at the York Immigration Court, located inside the York County Prison. People detained in Pennsylvania prisons other than York County Prison will have their immigration hearings held via video at the York Immigration Court.

CIRC partnered in this project with Casa San Jose, a community resource center located in Pittsburgh that advocates for and empowers Latinx people. It includes an Emergency Response Program, which provides support and resources to families and community members impacted by immigration detention, such as a bond fund offering 0% loans to community members paying bonds and know-your-rights information for affected communities. 

Learning Goals:

Communication and collaboration, legal research and analysis, professional judgment, and multidimensional lawyering


SELF HELP GUIDE FOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS ON BEHALF OF THRIVE INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS

CIRC worked in collaboration with Thrive International and immigration law clinics at the University of Maine, and Stanford University to prepare pro se asylum packets. These packets provide information to assist individuals who are applying for asylum pro se. Because attorneys may not always be available to asylum applicants many individuals apply pro se, meaning without the assistance of an attorney.

CIRC partnered in this project with Thrive International Programs, a nonprofit organization based out of Williamsport, PA. Thrive equips people from diverse cultures with increased language proficiency and cultural competence as well as provides immigration legal assistance and opportunities to integrate with and serve the community.

CIRC collaborated on this project with The University of Maine School of Law Refugee and Human Rights Clinic.  

Learning Goals:

Communication and collaboration, legal research and analysis, and problem-solving.


THE CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS

The Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and Center for Performing Arts collaborated in educating the community on immigration issues connected to the content or heritage of artists performing during the 2019-2020 season. Students educated audiences about the travel ban, refugees, or immigration enforcement.

The Center for the Performing Arts provides a context, through artistic connections, to the human experience. By bringing artists and audiences together they spark discovery of passion, inspiration, and inner truths. The Center for Performing Arts is a motivator for creative thinking and examination of our relationship with the world.

Learning Goals:

Learning goals: written and oral communication, empathy, legal research


PRO BONO ASYLUM CASE ON BEHALF OF THE LAW OFFICE OF JACKIE CASTENADA GUINAN

The Clinic assisted L, who sought asylum as a defense to removal before the Philadelphia Immigration Court.

Asylum is a form of protection available to those who face persecution in their home country. To be eligible for asylum, an applicant must meet the definition of a refugee, which requires a person to show they have suffered persecution in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or memberships in particular social group. The persecution must be by the government or a group the government is unable or unwilling to control. Asylum is discretionary, which means that officers and judges may determine that a person who meets the elements of asylum should be denied as a matter of discretion. The statute also outlines several restrictions on asylum. 

Castenada Planzer, LLC is based in Philadelphia with offices in Maryland and Alabama and specializes in immigration and nationality law.

Learning Goals:

Client interviewing and counseling, professional judgment, legal writing, and empathy.


PRO BONO REMOVAL AND SPECIAL IMMIGRANT JUVENILE STATUS CASE ON BEHALF OF THE LAW OFFICE OF JULIETTE GOMEZ

The Clinic assisted K who was in removal proceedings before the Philadelphia Immigration Court. Specifically, students worked on a remedy known as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Last year, students drafted a motion to terminate removal proceedings for K. This motion was granted and with appreciation by the immigration judge for the work of the Clinic. 

SIJS is an immigrant classification available to certain minors in the United States who fall under the jurisdiction and require the protection of juvenile courts due to parental abuse, abandonment or neglect. SIJS leads to legal status and eventual lawful permanent residence. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has exclusive jurisdiction over SIJS cases.

The Law Office of Juliette E. Gomez is based in Philadelphia, PA and specializes in removal defense and creative solutions for undocumented and transnational families.

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, professional judgment, communication and collaboration, and empathy.


COLLABORATION WITH THE UNIVERSITY POLICE

The Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic continued its collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University Police. Last year, students developed a training module on immigration and provided it to officers. The topics covered included information and resources available from the clinic, immigration policies that impact students and ways to identify vulnerable populations, among other topics.   

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, multidimensional lawyering, public speaking, empathy, professional judgment, problem solving, leadership, and collaboration.


BERKS FAMILY DETENTION CENTER

During the school year, the Clinic served as advocates for families who are about to undergo their credible or reasonable fear interviews. Students helped families understand the purpose of the interview and help them feel comfortable sharing traumatic experiences. As practicable, clinic students were also present during the interviews and assisted with additional follow up.

Asylum is a process for people who fear return to their home country. Under the immigration statute, any person in the United States may apply for asylum. Asylum is not available to everyone, but to those who can show persecution by the government or a group/persons the government is unable or unwilling to control because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Families who arrive in the United States without a “visa” or “permission” to enter, but who fear return must be referred to an asylum officer for a “credible fear” or “reasonable fear” interview with the asylum office. Many families detained at Berks are scheduled for a fear interview. Once a credible fear has been established, Berks families are generally released from immigration detention and scheduled for a hearing before a judge to apply for asylum and/or related protections.

The Clinic partnered with ALDEA, The People’s Justice Center to aid families detained in the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, PA. Berks is one of three family detention centers in the United States. It houses mothers, fathers, and children who are being held in immigration custody. The mission of ALDEA – The People’s Justice Center is to provide a holistic approach to meeting the multi-faceted needs of our immigrant community members, including through legal, social, educational, and medical services.

Learning Goals:

Empathy, professional judgment, leadership, collaboration, problem solving, legal research, and oral communication.


COLLABORATION WITH THE STATE COLLEGE MUNICIPALITY

The Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic continued its collaboration with local government officials in an effort to inform the community and help shape local policy regarding immigration after the presidential election.

Previously, the Clinic consulted with the Borough of State College and the State College Police Department to craft a revised policy on anti-bias-based policing and immigration. Borough Manager Thomas J. Fountaine II and Police Department Chief John Gardner announced in 2017. The policy encourages noncitizens to utilize police services and states that, as a general practice, the State College Police do not ask or collect information about immigration status. Students at the Clinic have also provided training on the new policy and the role of law enforcement in assisting victims of crimes and trafficking. The policy reflects the official borough resolution passed last year to make State College an inclusive and welcoming place for immigrants and local residents regardless of their immigration status. The resolution was written in collaboration with Penn State Law professor and Immigrants’ Rights Clinic Director Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia.

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, multidimensional lawyering, public speaking, empathy, professional judgment, problem solving, leadership, and collaboration.


COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND EDUCATION

The Clinic continued to be active in community outreach and education. In the last year, the Clinic has produced numerous fact sheets and updates on emerging immigration issues, including asylum, DACA, travel bans and family separation at the border. Students at the Clinic have also convened numerous town halls and workshops for both broader community audiences and impacted communities.

For Academic Year 2019-2020, the Clinic continued to engage in rapid response to emerging immigration issues through written work product and community forums. The clinic also participated in several events. On September 10, 2019, the Clinic had an exhibit for LION Bash. LION Bash is a State College block party and community resource fair. There is food, music, and activities. University and local organizations come together with exhibits to inform the community about their services.

On September 15, 2019, the Clinic had an exhibit for Constitution Day. The Constitution Day Centre event celebrates the Constitution and promotes discussion of constitutional rights with activities, exhibits, and speakers who focus on constitutional articles or amendments.

The Clinic has been a member of Welcoming America since 2016. Each year, Welcoming America sponsors Welcoming Week, a series of events by members to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming immigrants. In September 2019, the Clinic will collaborate with the State College municipality for an event.

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, multidimensional lawyering, public speaking, empathy, professional judgment, problem solving, leadership, and collaboration.


PRO BONO WITHHOLDING OF REMOVAL CASE ON BEHALF OF THE LAW OFFICE OF JULIETTE GOMEZ

The Clinic continued to assist J who sought asylum related relief known as “withholding of removal” as a defense to removal before the Philadelphia Immigration Court.

Like asylum, withholding of removal is a form of protection available to those who face persecution in their home country. Withholding of removal has more limited benefits than asylum, but it is available to some classes of noncitizens are ineligible for asylum. For example, if someone re-enters the country following a previous removal order, they cannot apply for asylum, but they can still apply for withholding of removal. Applicants for withholding of removal must establish that their “life or freedom would be threatened” upon removal from the United States. J will seek this form of protection in a limited proceeding known as a “withholding only” proceeding.

The Law Office of Juliette E. Gomez is based in Philadelphia, PA and specializes in removal defense and creative solutions for undocumented and transnational families.

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, professional judgment, communication and collaboration, and empathy.


THIRD CIRCUIT BLOG WITH PENNSYLVANIA IMMIGRATION RESOURCE CENTER (PIRC) 

The Clinic continued to update the Third Circuit Blog. The Blog was created in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC). The Blog consists of impartial summaries of precedential and select non-precedential Third Circuit immigration opinions relating to immigration relief from removal and detention.

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, professional judgment, communication, and multidimensional lawyering.