By Amy Volz, J.D. ’18
The Harvard Immigration Project (HIP) is excited to serve as a voice on campus for immigration advocacy during a year in which debates about U.S. immigration policy and the global migrant crisis have put this area of the law in unusual focus. We strive to elevate the voice of the immigrant community on the HLS campus while providing students with meaningful hands-on experience in immigration and refugee law.
I joined HIP’s Immigration Services Project (ISP) in the fall of my 1L year. My case partner, another 1L from my section, and I were matched with a client from Central America who had recently been granted asylum in the U.S. with the help of the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic (HIRC). Our goal was to assist her with her application for permanent residency in the United States. Over the course of the semester, we met with our client several times to collect the required documents and prepare her application. While we continued assembling her materials over the winter, we took on a second client, also an asylee from Central America. We sent out both applications in the spring and waited impatiently for news from Department of Homeland Security!
The good news came over the summer: both of our clients were granted permanent residency in the U.S. Having learned over the course of the year what our clients had been through on the road to these applications, it was incredibly rewarding to witness their elation when their green cards arrived. They are now on the path to citizenship and can finally build their lives in Boston with the protections and benefits of permanent residency.
My experience with HIP has reaffirmed my commitment to working for the public interest in a client-centered role. I’m fortunate to have met a community of passionate and talented people with a wealth of experience in advocacy work. This year, as Co-President, I’m excited for HIP to continue serving as a resource for students interested in immigration law. HIP members also work on two other legal services projects: the Removal Defense Project, in which students represent ICE detainees in bond hearings before the Boston Immigration Court, and the International Refugee Assistance Project, which provides legal representation to refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. We are also developing initiatives to provide students interested in immigration policy with resources to get engaged in the local community. Finally, we host regular speaker events with practitioners, judges, and HLS professors to highlight current issues in immigration and refugee law and look forward to our second annual HIP Symposium next spring!