By Isabelle Sauriol, a 2013 L.L.B. graduate of the University of Montreal
The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC) is an intern’s dream come true. While the place is unique in and of itself – filled with natural light, welcoming photos and captivating artwork – it’s the people occupying it that make the Clinic so special. One immediately feels at home in the friendly work environment of HIRC, where laughter, opinions (and candy consumption!) are encouraged.
Working with refugees can be challenging at times, given the constant need to adapt oneself to the cultural and religious backgrounds and often tremendously difficult pasts of each client. But as HIRC Fellow Emily Leung puts it, it is first and foremost an “incredibly rewarding experience.” Professor Deborah Anker and her team have made it their mission to help out this vulnerable population by extending the limits of the law by way of amicus briefs and conferences on topics such as gender-based asylum claims and gang-related asylum, as well as by exploring creative interpretations of asylum law.
Interning at the HIRC provided me with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with various immigration processes such as asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), under the supervision of two amazing lawyers, the Clinic’s own Phil Torrey and Sabrineh Ardalan. Together, we conducted interviews with asylum seekers and gathered evidence to corroborate our clients’ cases through country conditions research, medical expertise and psychological reports. I also had the privilege of exploring some of the fascinating course material offered to HLS students, such as Crimmigration: The Intersection of Criminal Law and Immigration Law and a reading group on Trauma, Human Rights and Refugee Law.