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Cases and Projects* -- Academic Year 2013-2014

Pro Bono Representation of Crime Victim

The Center represented M, an individual who was seeking a U visa after being exploited by her employer. M had already filed a skeletal application for her U visa. The Center primarily assisted M by filing supplementary and supporting documentation for her U visa to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The U visa protects victims of certain crimes by providing them temporary legal status and work authorization for up to four years. The U visa's twin purposes are to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute certain types of crimes and to assist immigrant victims of crimes.

Learning goals: Client-centered communications, legal research and analysis, empathy, multi-dimensional lawyering, professional judgment, legal writing, and collaboration.

American Bar Association Commission on Immigration

The American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration (Commission) directs the Association's efforts to ensure fair treatment and full due process rights for immigrants and refugees within the United States. Guided by resolutions adopted by the ABA House of Delegates, the Commission advocates for  pertinent statutory and regulatory modifications in law and governmental practices, works to coordinate and strengthen the ABA's response to developments in immigration laws and policies, develops and assists the operation of programs that promote high quality, effective legal representation for individuals in immigration proceedings, supports strengthening of detention standards and their adoption by regulation and supports comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the need for an effective, credible and humane immigration strategy.  Among the Commission's greatest concerns are safeguarding due process, promoting diminished reliance on and alternatives to detention and improving access to qualified legal representation and information for individuals in immigration proceedings, including particularly vulnerable individuals such as unaccompanied immigrant children and the mentally disabled.

American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center

The American Immigration Council is a non-profit organization established to increase public understanding of immigration law and policy, advocate for the just and fair administration of our immigration laws, protect the legal rights of noncitizens, and educate the public about the enduring contributions of America's immigrants. In the immigration enforcement arena, the Council engages in administrative advocacy and targeted litigation to protect the rights of noncitizens facing removal, encourage the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion, promote greater transparency regarding DHS enforcement practices, and ensure that immigration officers are held accountable for misconduct.

On behalf of the Commission and the Council and building upon the report “To File or Not to File,” students at the Center developed a practice advisory on "Notices to Appear" and related strategies for use by practitioners across the country. The practice advisory included the following: 1) description of the Notice to Appear and the role it plays in the immigration process; 2) strategies for practitioners in requesting prosecutorial discretion before and after the Notice to Appear is filed with the immigration court; and 3) related legal standards and case law. To reach this end, the Center researched the primary sources, secondary sources, and related literature on Notices to Appear and prosecutorial discretion. Students gathered experiences from advocates and attorneys who have used creative strategies to obtain a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion in connection with the Notice to Appear.

Learning Goals: Legal analysis and editing, objective and persuasive writing, written and oral communication, reflective lawyering, professional judgment, interviewing, problem solving, and collaboration.

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) is a non-profit legal services organization founded in 1996 in the aftermath of the Golden Venture grounding. The Golden Venture ship beached off the coast of Long Island with nearly three hundred Chinese refugees aboard who were fleeing persecution in the forms of forced sterilization and abortion. Many Golden Venture refugees were detained at York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania, by the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

At present, DHS detains immigrants in several facilities throughout Pennsylvania, and a secure family shelter in Berks County. These facilities are predominately located in rural counties in Pennsylvania, with a scarcity of immigration attorneys and immigrant communities. Consequently, most immigration detainees have little or no access to legal, social service, or community support. Located less than a mile from York County Prison, PIRC has become the leading source of legal services to immigrants detained by DHS in Pennsylvania. York County Prison houses approximately 700 detainees on a daily basis. The annex at York County Prison includes a branch of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court), presided over by two full-time Immigration Judges and a rotating Judge to assist with backlogs.

The “reasonable fear” process enables certain noncitizens to apply for protection before an immigration judge if an asylum officer finds that they have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in their home countries. Following a reasonable fear finding, such noncitizens are placed into “withholding only” proceedings and permitted to apply for limited forms of protection.  Currently, there is a dearth of resources about the withholding only process and strategies for challenging due process concerns that arise from this process.

On behalf of PIRC, students at the Center will draft and develop a practitioner toolkit on "withholding only" proceedings, a limited forum available to noncitizens who have expressed a fear of persecution or torture in their home countries. The toolkit will include the following: 1) summary of remedies available in withholding only proceedings; 2) exhibit list and forms for the Immigration Court; 3) legal briefs; and 4) legal standards and case law. To reach this end, the Center will research the primary sources, secondary sources, and related literature on withholding proceedings. Students will also solicit information from attorneys and advocates about withholding only proceedings. As practicable, students will gather strategies for challenging withholding only proceedings triggered by an administrative removal order, including requesting prosecutorial discretion in the form of release from detention. As practicable, students will create a pro se packet for individual noncitizens navigating withholding only proceedings without an attorney. Such a packet may include resources for challenging detention either because the person has been held for an unreasonably long period of time or because release is warranted as a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

Learning Goals: Legal research and analysis, objective and persuasive writing, relationship building, communication, problem solving, and collaboration.

Maggio Kattar P.C.

Maggio + Kattar is the largest boutique immigration law firm in Washington DC, and delivers exceptional legal service, strategy and advocacy across a variety of disciplines. From developing and managing innovative immigration solutions for large global corporations to zealous advocacy of complex individual cases, and everything in between, Maggio + Kattar is committed to providing unparalleled service and solutions that are tailored to each client's needs. Maggio + Kattar attorneys’ recognitions and accolades include U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal, Chambers USA, Washingtonian’s Best Lawyers, the Washington Post’s Best Lawyers, among others.

Every year, thousands of noncitizens are issued immigrant visas by consulates around the world to enter the United States. In many cases, the process is straightforward and the noncitizen is required to appear at a U.S. consulate for a visa interview at which point the visa is issued or denied. But for an unknown number of individuals, their applications are delayed for months and sometimes years because of “administrative processing.” Family members are separated from their loved ones in the United States and employees are unable to begin work for a U.S. employer due to these delays. Currently, there is sparse information provided by the Department of State about the types of cases subjected to this additional processing or the length of time such processing might take.

On behalf of Maggio Kattar, students at the Center drafted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to The Department of State (DOS) seeking information about and statistics relating to Administrative Processing. To reach this end, the Center researched the primary sources, secondary sources, and related literature on administrative processing. Students also reviewed the FOIA statute and research “best practices” for filing FOIAs.

Learning Goals: Legal research and analysis, written communication, and problem solving.

Pro Bono Representation of Detained Individual with Fear-based Claims

The Center represented C, a detained individual originally from Ghana, who was placed in expedited removal proceedings due to a non-violent criminal conviction. C was in withholding-only proceedings because an asylum officer determined that C had a reasonable fear of persecution or torture if removed to Ghana. In withholding-only proceedings, the Immigration Judge may only consider the following three forms of fear-based relief: withholding of removal, withholding under the Convention Against Torture, and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture.

These forms of relief protect an individual from removal to the country where they fear persecution or torture and also allow an individual to apply for work authorization in the United States. C came to the U.S. for educational opportunities but overstayed his student visa when family members were no longer able to support the tuition. C is married to a U.S. citizen and is a father to two young U.S. citizen children. The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center referred C’s case to the Center.

Learning Goals: Client-centered communication, trial preparation, counseling, legal research and analysis, multi-dimensional lawyering, empathy, professional judgment, creative problem solving, advanced legal writing, and collaboration.

Third Circuit Immigration Blog

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC), the Center created and maintained a law blog on precedential and select non-precedential Third Circuit decisions, with a focus on decisions involving legal remedies available to immigrants in removal proceedings or in detention. Occasionally, outside contributors were solicited to offer specific view points on recent decisions. Additionally, the blog will post resources and relevant news and events for practitioners and advocates.

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) is a non-profit legal services organization founded in 1996 in the aftermath of the Golden Venture grounding. The Golden Venture ship beached off the coast of Long Island with nearly three hundred Chinese refugees aboard who were fleeing persecution in the forms of forced sterilization and abortion. Consequent to immigration policies that mandate the detention of some asylum seekers, many Golden Venture refugees were detained at York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania, by the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

International Student Coffee Break: Important Immigration Issues Facing Our Community

In collaboration with the Centre County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC), Civil Legal Representation Project (CLRP), and the Graduate Workshop Series for LLM and SJD students, students lead a presentation and discussion of immigration remedies for victims of domestic violence and abuse. The presentation highlighted the services provided by CCWRC’s CLRP to immigrant victims of domestic violence.

The Graduate Workshop Series for LLM and SJD students provided resources and community support for international students and scholars at Penn State Dickinson School of Law. The program offered regular “coffee breaks” for students to learn and discuss topics and issues relevant to the international community at the law school and in State College.

The CLRP is a project of CCWRC, a non-profit organization located in State College, PA that provides a range of services to victims including a 24 hour crisis hotline, crisis counseling, emergency shelter, transitional housing, advocacy, support groups, family law legal services, and referrals to other appropriate community programs. CCWRC is a leading voice for victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the Central Pennsylvania region and provides advocacy and education on topics related to domestic and sexual abuse in the community.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Presentation for Good Shepherd Catholic Church’s Just Faith Group

In collaboration with Good Shepherd’s Catholic Church’s Just Faith Group, a Center student lead a presentation and discussion on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that provides a discretionary grant of relief to certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and have pursued education or military service. While deferred action does not lead to lawful permanent residence or citizenship, individuals granted DACA receive a temporary suspension from deportation and the authorization to work in the U.S. Since the program opened on August 15, 2012, over 450,000 individuals have had their requests for DACA approved.

* Note: Clients have given special permission for information contained in this document to be shared publicly.