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Cases and Projects: 2018-2019

BERKS FAMILY DETENTION CENTER

In September/October, the Clinic will serve as advocates for families who are about to undergo their credible or reasonable fear interviews. Students will help families understand the purpose of the interview and help them feel comfortable sharing traumatic experiences. As practicable, clinic students will also be present during the interviews and assist 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 will partner 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.


ACCESS TO COUNSEL RESEARCH ON BEHALF OF THE PENNSYLVANIA IMMIGRANT FAMILY UNITY PROJECT (PAIFUP) 

The Clinic will help to prepare a study on Access to Counsel for noncitizens in Pennsylvania. The study will be used as a tool to promote education and awareness regarding the plight of noncitizens in immigration court and detention. Most noncitizens who face removal do not have access to legal representation. The Clinic will engage in data collection and analysis to determine the extent to which counsel is unavailable, and how essential legal representation is in obtaining relief.

The study will focus on factors such as the length of stay in detention, the frequency of success in obtaining relief from removal or bond, and the percentage of noncitizens facing removal who are unrepresented. Data on these topics will be obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to administrative agencies responsible for immigration enforcement.

This project will be done in collaboration with The Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project (PAIFUP) is a coalition of HIAS Pennsylvania, the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), and the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC).

HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. HIAS Pennsylvania advocates for just and inclusive public policies and practices.

The Nationalities Service Center (NSC) provides comprehensive services to immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia region. NSC advocates for pro-immigrant government policies, and focuses on reuniting families seeking humanitarian relief.

The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) was founded on a mission of access to justice, and provides free legal education and services to immigrant residents and asylum-seekers held in detention, and legal representation to immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in south central Pennsylvania and other communities in the Commonwealth.

Learning Goals:

Legal research and analysis, professional judgment, communication, collaboration, multidimensional lawyering, problem solving, and leadership.


COLLABORATION WITH THE STATE COLLEGE MUNICIPALITY

The Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic will continue its collaboration with local government officials in an effort to inform the community and help shape local policy regarding immigration after the presidential election. Below are some recent collaboration between the Clinic and municipality.

In AY 2017-2018, the Clinic consulted with the 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 the policy on Oct. 16. 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 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 will continue 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 DACA, TPS, the 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 2018-2019, the Clinic will continue to engage in rapid response to emerging immigration issues through written work product and community forums. The clinic will also participate in several events. On August 29, 2018, the Clinic will have 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 16, 2018, the Clinic will have 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 2018, the Clinic will collaborate with the State College municipality for an event.

In 2016 the Clinic celebrated Welcoming Week with “Asylum 101,” an event that provided the community with an overview of asylum law and offered resources for those seeking asylum. In 2017 the Clinic hosted an information session called “The Future of DACA: What Lies Ahead.” The event gave an overview of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and discussed the then recent end of DACA.

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 will continue to assist J who is seeking 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 will continue 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.


PRO BONO U-VISA CASE ON BEHALF OF THE PENNSYLVANIA IMMIGRATION RESOURCE CENTER (PIRC)

The Center will assist X who is seeking a U visa as a victim of crime.

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes. (Source: USCIS)

The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) was founded on a mission of access to justice, and provides free legal education and services to immigrant residents and asylum-seekers held in detention, and legal representation to immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in south central Pennsylvania and other communities in the Commonwealth.

Learning Goals:

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