Penn State Law Immigrants’ Rights Clinic publishes guide for asylum seekers

The Penn State Law in University Park Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic, along with several collaborators including the University of Maine School of Law Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, has published the Self-Help Asylum Guide: Seeking Protection in the United States. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Law in University Park Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC), in collaboration with the University of Maine School of Law Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, and Thrive International Programs, has published a comprehensive self-help guide for asylum seekers.

Contributors from the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, under the supervision of Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinic Professor of Law at Penn State Law, included students Kaitlyn Box, juris doctor candidate 2020; and Berenice Beltrán-Maldonado, master of international affairs candidate 2020; and staff attorney Ashika Verriest. CIRC, worked with their Maine Law counterparts to create an up-to-date resource accessible to all who need it. The guide provides information to assist individuals who are applying for asylum pro se, or without the assistance of an attorney. The immigration legal system is complex and navigating it on one’s own behalf can be challenging. Everyone has the right to apply for asylum, but not necessarily the right to court-appointed counsel. This guide seeks to aid the increasing number of families and individuals that want to apply for asylum.

“Navigating the process of applying for asylum can be extremely daunting for individuals who are not represented by an attorney. My hope is that this guide will make the process somewhat less intimidating for those who must apply for asylum on their own,” said Box. “A lot of time and care was put into this guide to make it as functional and as user-friendly as possible. I look forward to seeing how the community interacts with the guide and hope that it proves to be a useful resource for asylum applicants.”

This publication fills a national need, addressing various postures of asylum seekers, from students, to individuals before a court, to those in detention. It is available online now in English, French, and Spanish, with nearly all translations handled by Penn State Law and Maine Law students.

The CIRC partnered with local group Thrive International to gain feedback on the efficacy of the guide. Thrive equips people from diverse cultures with language and culture skills and provides immigration legal assistance and opportunities to integrate with and serve the community. Thrive is based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Founded by Wadhia in 2008, the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic is one of nine clinics at Penn State Law that allow students to learn through experience under the guidance of clinical faculty. Under Wadhia’s supervision, students in the clinic engage in community outreach and education on topics such as immigration remedies for victims of crimes and changing immigration policy. The clinic also provides legal support in individual cases of immigrants challenging deportation (removal) or seeking protection through the Department of Homeland Security and in the courts.

Institutional affiliation for faculty and students in the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic is provided for identification purposes only and does not represent the views of the institution.

Last Updated April 15, 2021