Professors Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia and Jill Family Discuss Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases
Posted on October 21st, 2015

by Wesley S. Stevenson and Tessa M. Carson; edited by John Basenfelder

Last month the Institute for International Law and Public Policy invited Professors Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia of Penn State and Jill Family of Widener-Harrisburg to Temple to discuss Professor Wadhia’s new book, Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases.

Professor Wadhia discussed many forms of prosecutorial discretion, including the deferred action programs Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), as well as the benefits of prosecutorial discretion for immigrants and their families. She also pointed out the significant limitations of this “temporary benefit,” and highlighted several key reforms that government agencies should make to increase the transparency and predictability of prosecutorial discretion. Professor Wadhia further emphasized the human element of immigration decisions, and in her book calls on the government to consider an immigrant’s life circumstances when making prosecutorial decisions.

Professor Family elaborated on Professor Wadhia’s points and emphasized that until Congress acts to pass more comprehensive immigration reform, Beyond Deportation’s lessons were sure to remain a relevant guide for injecting equity into immigration outcomes. She pointed to the recent judicial treatment of immigration guidance documents as evidence of the larger debate surrounding the role of guidance documents versus notice and comment rulemaking by administrative agencies more generally. Additionally, Professor Family urged the audience to ask whether there are reasons to consider immigration different than other areas of administrative law.


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