A Farewell to Emily Leung

Emily Leung This month HIRC says goodbye to Emily Leung, who has served as the Albert M. Sacks Clinical & Advocacy Fellow for the last three years and as a clinical volunteer for an additional year before that. A skilled teacher, fierce advocate, and loyal friend, Emily has left an indelible mark on the clinic, her colleagues, and her clients alike. The HIRC staff shares some parting thoughts for Emily as she begins the next phase of her career:

I can’t believe Emily is going—not allowed! Her calm, brilliant presence has made my life so wonderful. I know we’re going to keep working together; we’re already plotting (no further info to be provided). I love you Emily; you’ve really brought such joy to my life and had such a special presence and influence on this office and all of your clients.     —Deborah Anker

Emily has been amazing colleague and friend, and we will be so sad to see her go! She is an incredible advocate and teacher, and I have learned so much from working with her. South Coastal is very lucky to have her joining their team!     —Sabi Ardalan

Emily has been an incredible advocate for her clients; they will miss her easy going personality and good humor. I will miss her!     —Liala Buoniconti

Emily is an amazing person. Her kindness, humility, and brilliant lawyering continue to inspire me daily. I have learned so much from watching her interact with her clients, who admire her deeply. Emily makes our office a wonderful place to be, and we will all miss her tremendously!     —Lucy Cummings

In addition to being an outstanding attorney, advocate,  and teacher, Emily possesses a deep-seated respect for her clients – what they have experienced and what they bring to this country. While we will miss her greatly, I know she will do great work at South Coastal Legal Services.     —Nancy Kelly

Emily has been such a wonderful colleague. She will be greatly missed by all of us, as well as her students and clients. But, we’re thrilled that she’s moving on to an exciting new position where she’ll continue to use her talents to help those in need.     —Phil Torrey

After a well-deserved vacation, Emily will start this August as a staff attorney for South Coastal Counties Legal Services (SCCLS), an established non-profit legal services program providing free civil legal aid to low-income and elderly clients in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. Emily will provide a full range of critical legal assistance in to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and continue to take immigration cases.

Best of luck, Emily. HIRC will miss you!

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Read the Testimonials of HIRC Alumni

For the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, alumni of the clinic shared Testimonials.  Check them out!

Alumni sit down to talk at HIRC's 30th Anniversary Conference

Alumni sit down to talk at HIRC’s 30th Anniversary Conference

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Alumni Interview with Fatma Marouf

D67683_01Fatma Marouf received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2002. She now teaches immigration law and international human rights law at the William S. Boyd School of Law and is Co-Director of the school’s Immigration Clinic. Marouf attended Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program’s 30th Anniversary Conference in June, and is one of the alumni we interviewed.

Why did you choose to study law and what initially brought you to the clinic?

I chose to study law because of my interest in human rights. I read Debbie Anker’s work on asylum law even before starting law school and was excited by the opportunity to work with her. I couldn’t wait to enroll in the clinic and turned down an offer to join the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau my 2L year because I was determined to do the Immigration and Refugee Clinic. I loved asylum law right away. There was something profound about helping people construct a meaningful narrative out of the painful fragments of their lives.

Can you share a few memories from your time with the clinic?

I still have vivid memories of some of the clients I worked with in clinic. I’ll never forget one client from Sierra Leone who was trying to bring his children to the U.S. through humanitarian parole. We needed to submit passport-size photographs with the application and the ones that he brought to the clinic were full-size. When I started cutting them down, there were pieces of photos with body parts on them scattered all over the table. All I could think of was the horror that his family had experienced in Sierra Leone, when rebel forces began hacking off arms and legs with axes and machetes, and how this pile of scraps seemed to reflect that nightmare.

What do you think the biggest learning experiences were?

What I learned from clinic was to give 110% to my clients. I learned how much effort is involved in preparing an asylum case properly and how to work with people who have experienced unspeakable trauma. Debbie was an incredible mentor. Her passion for the work is what inspired passion in so many students. She taught us how to push the law forward, rather than just accept conventional thinking about the limits of the refugee definition. She also shaped my ideas about viewing asylum law through the lens of international human rights law.

What do you miss?  

I miss my friends who were in clinic with me and are still some of my closest friends today. We still see each other but it’s harder now to be together in the same place at the same time. It was wonderful to see some of them at the 30th Anniversary of HIRC. They taught me the joy of working with people I love and the importance of having a sense of humor when doing difficult work.

Did your time at the clinic influence or change your long-term goals?

The clinic was critical to my professional development. My experiences representing low-income individuals in clinic helped me decide to join California Rural Legal Assistance after graduating. I then decided to practice immigration law in Los Angeles and focused on removal defense. Clinic was also a catalyst for my decision to become a law professor. Debbie was a great role model and has been very supportive of my academic career. I joined UNLV in 2010 as an Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic. The clinic provides representation in removal proceedings, works with survivors of human trafficking, published a report on detention conditions, and has an innovative project with the public defenders’ office that involves providing immigration advice at the front-end of criminal proceedings, before someone is convicted.

In addition, my scholarship is about immigration and asylum law. I have written about gender-related asylum claims, the evolving definition of a “particular social group,” the role of foreign authorities in U.S. asylum law, and the treatment of mentally incompetent individuals in removal proceedings. I am also involved in empirical research with Professors Michael Kagan and Rebecca Gill at UNLV about immigration appeals in the federal appellate courts. A study that we recently published on stays of removal found that the appellate courts deny stays in about half of the cases where the appeals are ultimately granted, leaving many noncitizens vulnerable to errant deportations. We are currently examining gender interactions in immigration appeals, looking at the genders of the petitioner, the attorneys, and the judges and how they may impact the outcome of the cases.

What do you anticipate in the coming years?

Immigration law is always evolving, which makes it fun to litigate in this area but hard to predict the future. I suspect that we will see some major changes in the next decade. I’m excited to help build a cadre of lawyers who will fight for justice for those fleeing from persecution and torture and who will think creatively about how to design an immigration system that respects human dignity.


Read about a recent victory of the UNLV clinic:

UNLV Clinic Victory: Clark County, NV Decides Not to Enforce ICE Detainers

Following the pre-litigation efforts of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Immigration Clinic at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and Holland & Knight LLP, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie announced yesterday that his department would no longer enforce most ICE holds, also known as immigration detainers. With this move, Clark County joins dozens of other states and localities across the county that have refused to honor ICE holds because of constitutional concerns. Sheriff Gillespie’s decision also sends a strong message that immigrants should not fear coming forward to the police as victims or witnesses of crimes, because it disentangles the role of local law enforcement from immigration enforcement.

This change comes after a federal district in Oregon ruled in Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County that the county had violated the fourth amendment by detaining Ms. Miranda-Olivares without probable cause pursuant to an ICE detainer. The court explained that the continued detention of Ms. Miranda-Olivares after she was eligible for release on her criminal charges, based solely on the ICE detainer, constituted a new arrest and therefore required an independent finding of probable cause. The court rejected the county’s argument that it was required to comply with ICE detainers, citing ICE’s own statements that the detainers are voluntary requests. The county was found liable for damages under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act.

For more information about the UNLV clinic itself, go to the clinic’s webpage.

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Post Grad Profiles: Sarah Wheaton

Sarah Wheaton photoSarah Wheaton is a recent Harvard Law School grad who spent time at HIRC. Next year, she will be traveling to Egypt to work at a refugee resettlement legal aid center! We asked her about her time at the Clinic and how that influenced her plans after law school. Here is what she told us:
What drew  you to law school, and to the Harvard Immigration and Refugee clinic in particular?
I chose to study law because I thought it was the tool to address violence that I would be best suited for. I came to HIRC because I wanted to work with victims of violence, especially international clients, and use whatever legal knowledge or skill I had to assist them.
 What do you think the biggest learning experiences were?
The biggest learning experience I had was how much of a dialogue the lawyer-client relationship must be in asylum cases. You are true partners in developing the case together, because it’s a real translation process from the client’s memories into a legal theory, but it has to be one in the client’s voice that is authentic when the client speaks it during her interview.
What will you miss?
I’m going to miss working with a phenomenal team of world-class experts, who are available for tips and advice all the time and who are constantly learning from and laughing with each other.
What’s next? Did the clinic influence your post-grad plans?
The clinic will be a great foundation for my career. This is the type of work I want to do, and there are so many techniques I picked up from working with the clinicians that I will put into practice for the rest of my life. Working there convinced me that I want to stay in refugee and human rights work for my career. That’s why I’m going to Egypt next year to work at a refugee resettlement legal aid center. I hope to continue in refugee, human rights, or asylum work in both the U.S. and abroad for the rest of my career.
Thank you Sarah, and good luck in Egypt next year!
Also, a final congrats to the Class of 2014! We wish you all luck with your future plans.
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Eva Bitran cited by the 5th Circuit!

Congratulations to Eva Bitran ’14, HIRC alumna and former co-President of the Harvard Immigration Project (HIP)!  Her note for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Boumedine at the Border? The Constitution and Foreign Nationals at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” was cited in an important ruling released yesterday from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  In Hernandez v. United States, the court allowed the family of a Mexican child shot and killed on the Mexican side of the border to proceed with a Bivens lawsuit against the Customs and Border Patrol agent who shot him from the U.S. side.  In arriving at this ruling, the majority opinion, authored by Judge Edward Prado, held that noncitizens interacting with law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border are entitled to Fifth Amendment due process protections.  Bitran’s note was cited to illustrate “the long history of United States involvement beyond the U.S.-Mexico border”—a fact crucial to the majority’s determination that government agents are responsible for respecting the Fifth Amendment rights of foreign nationals occupying areas abroad that are nevertheless under the de facto control of the United States.

Eva will be clerking for Judge Prado next year.  Congratulations from HIRC, and best of luck!

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