Fighting for the rights of immigrants facing removal and separation from family.

The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center provides comprehensive remove defense legal services to immigrants, focusing its services on immigrants detained in Pennsylvania. Through its Removal Defense Programs, PIRC educates, directly represents, and provides referrals for immigrants facing removal proceedings or separation from their families.


providing legal education to immigrants

Immigrants held in detention are not appointed an attorney, and many must fight their cases on their own. PIRC’s Legal Orientation Program works to educate immigrants about their rights and what to expect immigration court.

The LOP, administered by the Acacia Center for Justice through a contract with the Department of Justice, Executive Office of Immigration Review, educates detained immigrants on immigration law, immigration court procedure and the availability of legal remedies to individuals who are or may be in immigration removal proceedings. PIRC strives to reach each of the immigrants detained in Pennsylvania at the Moshannon Valley Processing Center and the Clinton Correctional Facility, providing legal education, legal assistance, and when possible, direct legal representation (under separate funding). 

Often, these services provide the only legal information immigrants will receive before they appear in court without an attorney to present their case. PIRC provides LOP services in English, Spanish and other languages that include:


PIRC provides group legal orientation presentations in-person and virtually at immigrant detention centers in Pennsylvania. Interactive, multilingual group orientations take place as soon as possible prior to the  immigrants’ initial hearing before the Immigration Court.


PIRC provides self-help workshops for detained immigrants interested in pursuing relief from removal. Attorneys and DOJ accredited representatives also and offer self-help materials such as asylum or habeas packets, and country conditions research.


For unrepresented detained immigrants who desire assistance in understanding their particular legal situation, PIRC conducts individual legal orientations. 


PIRC promotes and facilitates direct pro bono representation to detained immigrants to PIRC’s in-house programs or outside volunteer attorneys, law schools, and legal clinics. Pro bono attorneys are a critical part of increasing access to justice for immigrants in detention.  


Representing detained immigrants with mental health conditions to ensure a fair legal process

In 2017, PIRC also became a provider of representation through the National Qualified Representative Program(NQRP), a nationwide program to provide representation to detained respondents who are found by an Immigration Court to be mentally incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings.


Providing an immigration attorney for immigrants facing removal/separation from families on a merits-blind basis

The Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project is a collaborative of nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania formed to achieve universal representation for detained immigrants in removal proceedings in the state. Launched in 2019, PAIFUP is Pennsylvania’s first publicly funded defense counsel project for detained immigrants.

There are no eligibility criteria other than income and a lack of private counsel. We do not exclude individuals based on prior criminal convictions, residency, or any other reason. Unlike other legal providers, our high quality, zealous representation is merits-blind. Clients are represented without considering the likelihood that the case will have a particular outcome in the immigration court. We are committed to our clients and will represent them throughout their entire case until a final decision is made.  

For more information, please visit the PAIFUP website.


Representing one of the most vulnerable immigrant populations attempting to access justice – migrants under the age of 18 who have arrived in the U.S. without a guardian

Mobo’s story

Mobo persecution in his home country of Nigeria. As a Christian minister, Mobo was targeted for abuse by Boko Haram, and was kidnapped and tortured. When he attempted to flee, the Nigerian government suspected he was a part of Boko Haram, and subjected him to further severe maltreatment. He made the long, hard journey to the United States to find his new home a cell in a prison. Matters were further complicated when his dormitory was quarantined due to the pandemic, where PIRC was unable to reach him for quite some time.


We ultimately encountered Dayo mere days before his final chance to plead his case for asylum before a judge, which he prepared himself. PIRC swiftly provided him with free educational legal assistance in preparation for his family hearing, and Dayo was granted relief. After the abduction, torture, arduous journey, and grueling time spent in civil detention, Dayo was connected with PIRC partners for long-term housing, transportation, and basic necessities.


Names are changed to protect identities.