The changing landscape of immigration law and policy in a Pennsylvania context was the focus of a recent program on Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus.
Presented by the school’s Law & Government Institute, the Oct. 29 program, “Immigration Law in Pennsylvania: Policy and Practice,” featured two panel discussions made up of some of the keystone state’s most respected immigration law experts.
Attorney participants shared insights into the practice of immigration law during a time of legislative change. Participants largely included Pennsylvania lawyers and academics.
Benjamin D. Yerger, Esq., of the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center in York, Pa., talked about the York County Prison, which is contracted to provide 800 beds for immigration-related cases and is one of the largest facilities of its kind on the East Coast. The prison is home to two immigration courts, where detainees have no right to a free attorney, Yerger said. Between language barriers, lack of access to evidence and, for many, no nearby family, court appearances can be a sea of confusion. “I’ve had clients who’ve had no idea what’s going on in court,” he said.
Attorney Craig R. Shagin, Esq., of The Shagin Law Group LLC in Harrisburg, said through his clients, he has seen an atmosphere of fear
and hate that greets immigrants in the United States, including clients that are stopped for no apparent reason and those whose presence here is met with suspicion despite any legitimate cause for it. “I see that up close and personal,” Shagin said. “It is very, very disconcerting.”
Among the other program participants were Steven P. Barsamian, Esq., a member of the Widener Law Board of Overseers and president of the school’s alumni board; Larry Frankel, Esq. ,the legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania; and Helen Harnett, Esq., an attorney with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network in Washington, D.C. Captions: Photo 1: The panel that discussed immigration law policy in Pennsylvania included, from left, Jan C. Ting, professor of law at Temple University's James E. Beasley School of Law and adjunct professor at Widener Law; Peter J. Spiro, the Charles R. Weiner Professor of Law at Temple University's James E. Beasley School of Law; Widener Law Associate Professor Jill E. Family, who moderated; Larry Frankel, Esq., legislative director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania; and Helen Harnett, Esq., senior advocacy attorney for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc.
Photo 2: The panel that discussed immigration law practice in Pennsylvania included, from left, Won Kidane, visiting assistant professor at Penn State, The Dickinson School of Law; Steven P. Barsamian, Esq., Widener law alumnus and Philadelphia pracitioner; Widener Law Associate Professor Wesley M. Oliver, who moderated; Craig R. Shagin, Esq. of The Shagin Law Group LLC in Harrisburg; Troy J. Mattes, Esq., of Carr & Mattes PC in Lancaster; and Benjamin D. Yerger, Esq., of the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center in York.