For over 30 years, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC or the Clinic), in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), has influenced the development of U.S. and international refugee law and assisted people from around the world fleeing the most serious human rights abuses. HIRC is actively involved in the development of position papers and innovative legal theories for briefs filed in U.S. courts and with international tribunals. HIRC faculty and staff regularly produce cutting-edge scholarship, including articles and book chapters. Deborah Anker, HLS Clinical Professor and Director of HIRC, published the first major treatise on U.S. asylum law, Law of Asylum in the United States.

Among the oldest clinics at Harvard Law School, HIRC combines representation of individual applicants for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief with appellate litigation and policy advocacy.  Clinical students can choose between two tracks: Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic or the Crimmigration Clinic, both of which are accompanied by a weekly seminar.

Immigration and Refugee Advocacy clinical students take the lead in representing clients from all over the world who are seeking protection from human rights abuses in their country of origin, protection from exile after years of living in the United States, or reunification with their families. Under the supervision of HIRC faculty and staff, students conduct extensive client interviews, prepare legal briefs, gather corroborating documents, and present cases before the Asylum Office and Immigration Court.

Crimmigration clinical students tackle issues at the intersection of criminal law and immigration law, writing amicus briefs or policy memoranda concerning the rising use of immigration detention, due process concerns in crime-based removal proceedings and constitutional issues arising from state enforcement of federal immigration laws. Crimmigration students also work with the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute to provide advice to their case teams and noncitizen clients about the immigration consequences of potential criminal convictions.

Other non-clinical courses offered by HIRC faculty include Immigration Law: Policy and Social Change and Trauma, Refugees and Asylum Law. The Crimmigration seminar is open to both clinical and non-clinical students as well.

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