The West Virginia University Immigration Law Clinic has served scores of clients throughout the West Virginia and western Pennsylvania region since 1996. The clinic serves foreign citizens who are facing deportation, seeking asylum, and other immigration proceedings.
The Clinic has won political asylum for clients from Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and Guinea, often pushing the law creatively in circumstances related to today’s most pressing issues, such as gender persecution, social turmoil during democratic transition, and conflict in the Middle East.
The West Virginia University Immigration Law Clinic has introduced students to service learning in a growing area of the law. In fact, they are often the only source of help in a field where the government severely restricts legal assistance to those who cannot afford to pay.
Professor Jim Friedberg founded that project at the urging of his international law and human rights students as a volunteer pro bono undertaking. The next year, he turned the project into a clinical course, as a follow-on to his immigration law lecture. Almost from its inception, nationally known immigration attorney, Robert S. Whitehill, presently a partner at Fox Rothschild law firm in Pittsburgh, has co-directed the clinic. Co-curricular activities related to the clinic have included such prominent immigration specialists as former INS General Counsel Paul Virtue, Georgetown law professor Philip Schrag, and internationally known author and practitioner Ira Kurzban.
STUDENTS GAIN ASYLUM FOR SYRIANS
In 2012, a Syrian mother visited her son who is studying in the U.S. During her stay, violence increases in Syria. Friends and neighbors are beaten, detained, tortured, and killed. Fearing for their safety, the mother and son apply for asylum. WVU Law students take on the case and win, setting the family on a path to U.S. citizenship.