- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia has a history of making statements about limiting federal immigration enforcement and even against deporting convicted felons, according to previous statements she made reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- “I don’t know that any element of criminality should suffice to being a priority for enforcement, or even any felony for that matter, and I think that part of that has to do with how I view the role of prosecutorial discretion and the importance of looking at the whole person and equities,” Wadhia said during a 2020 talk.
- As part of her role at DHS, Wadhia oversees the Case Management Pilot Program (CMPP) national board, a group overseeing the funding to support illegal immigrants released into the country as an “alternative” to detention.
A top Biden administration Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official has a history of making statements advocating against deporting convicted felons and for restricting certain aspects of immigration enforcement, according to her previous statements reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
DHS announced in April that Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia would serve as Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In her previous work, Shoba advocated to limit ICE arrests, reduce the agency’s use of detention and stop the use of the term “illegal immigrant,” the DCNF found.
Wadhia is currently on leave from her position as associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State Law, according to the institution. (RELATED: Top Biden Immigratiovn Adviser Has Numerous Ties To Groups That Want To ‘Abolish’ ICE)
“From what I can see, Professor Wadhia has no background in oversight or agency management. She’s a ‘policy advocate’ and a former lobbyist who seems to oppose most immigration enforcement. Clearly not a champion for DHS’s mission,” former ICE Chief of Staff Jon Feere, who served during the Trump administration, said in a March tweet of Wadhia’s appointment.
“As the Officer for the Office for Civil Right and Civil Liberties, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia has been steadfast in her commitment to the Department, its mission, and its people,” a DHS spokesperson told the DCNF of Wadhia and her role. “She is dedicated to leading the Department’s efforts to support our national security and law enforcement missions while preserving individual liberties, fairness, and equality under the law.”
In a November 2020 talk for the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Wadhia said that immigration enforcement doesn’t need to depend on “criminality” or a “felony.”
“I don’t know that any element of criminality should suffice to being a priority for enforcement, or even any felony for that matter, and I think that part of that has to do with how I view the role of prosecutorial discretion and the importance of looking at the whole person and equities,” Wadhia said at the time.
In a 2017 interview, Wadhia said she envisioned immigration reform should mean decreasing the use of immigration detention.
“I would also vastly reduce the reliance our government has on immigration detention. History has shown there’s been bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform. But immigration reform isn’t the number one agenda our current president has,” Wadhia said at the time.
In a February 2021 talk on “Racism in U.S. Immigration Law and Policy,” Wadhia advocated against the use of the term “illegal immigrant,” “illegal immigration” and “illegal alien.”
“The term ‘alien’ is not unrelated to terms like ‘illegal immigrant,’ ‘illegal immigration,’ ‘illegal alien.’ Like ‘alien,’ these terms are necessarily exclusionary and inconsistent with values of inclusion and equity in the country,” Wadhia said at the time.
Wadhia also said she’d “love to see” illegal immigrants have access to driver’s licenses during a January panel with State College Borough entitled “The Intersection of Policing and Race.”
“Many states do allow for driver’s licenses regardless of status or more broadly, and that’s a policy I’d love to see,” Wadhia said at the time.
In her role at DHS, Wadhia chairs the Case Management Pilot Program (CMPP) national board, a group overseeing the funding to support illegal immigrants tracked by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after their release into the country.
DHS tapped the Church World Service, a faith-based group that has openly advocated to “abolish” the agency, in 2022 to serve as the board’s secretariat.
— CWS (@CWS_global) June 24, 2021
Wadhia founded the Center For Immigrants’ Rights Clinic to provide student training on immigration cases and legal services for immigrants fighting deportation more than a decade ago.
Ireland Walker and Jack Applewhite contributed to this report.
This article has been updated with comment from the Department of Homeland Security.
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