The Immigrant Rights Project

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What is The Immigrant Rights Project?

The Immigrant Rights Project, formerly the Penn Law Immigration Clinic (PLIC), is a student-run pro bono project that conducts immigration assistance in the greater Philadelphia area.  We operate under the legal supervision of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Reed Smith.

What exactly do Project members do?

Some students in the Project are assigned, in pairs, to a single attorney and conduct casework under the attorney's supervision.  Other students research country conditions in asylum filings and draft legal memoranda where appropriate.  Still other students engage in policy work.  Finally, some students act as intake personnel for Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).

What sort of casework does the Project do?

The Project's casework focuses on two areas of substantive immigration law: political asylum and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Last year, students filed affirmative and defensive asylum claims, VAWA self-petitions, and VAWA-based removals of condition on Permanent Residence.  We have served clients from Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Croatia, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, India, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Togo, and Zimbabwe.

How many students are currently involved in the Project and how long has it been in existence?

The Project was founded by three interested students during the 2001-2002 academic year.  The Project rendered its first legal services during the 2002-2003 academic year and was made up of only twelve students at the time.

The Project has since expanded, and this year (2008-2009) we have thirty-seven students.  Almost all the students involved in the Project this year have language abilities in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, or Mandarin.