Law School immigration counseling program helps the powerless while educating students
Harvard Law School students with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) were working with Greater Boston Legal Services on a case involving a Guatemalan man in the summer of 2013 when they collectively had an “aha” moment.
The pressure was high, and everybody was working on two sets of legal briefs that were due before the court. “We were having a meeting here, and all of a sudden everybody understood what was on the table, and the writing was very powerful,” said John Willshire Carrera, co-director of the HIRC site at Greater Boston Legal Services.
The HIRC program trains students to represent refugees seeking asylum in the United States, as well as other immigrants, said Deborah Anker, the program’s director and a clinical professor of law.
“We represent a lot of women and children, LGBITA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, and asexual] cases, and cases where people face persecution under what people may regard as the classic ground of political opinion,” Anker said. “Recently, we’ve been representing a lot of people who are fleeing the warfare — it’s called gang violence but it’s really warfare — in Central America.”
HIRC students work on all these matters with supervision. They also work on litigation and Circuit Court of Appeals cases, often filing amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs, working side-by-side with the instructors.
“They have done extraordinary work, especially with women refugees and with children,” Anker said.
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