Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project
IRAP provides legal representation to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, who are seeking resettlement in the United States. The organization is student-driven and matches small groups of law students with pro bono supervising attorneys from the law firm Cleary Gottlieb to take on individual cases. Together, students and supervising attorneys interview clients by phone, research relevant legal issues, and prepare clients’ applications for resettlement, visa applications, or appeals.
IRAP chapters exist at several law schools across the country, and this project provides an opportunity to be part of that national community of students interested in refugee issues. Additionally, students may apply to work directly with IRAP’s national organization, conducting short-term policy work and research projects. For more information about the national organization, please visit their website refugeerights.org.
Through participation in this project, students will gain skills in client interaction, interviewing, refugee and immigration law, and policy.
Students in this project will work with current and former clients of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic to provide follow-up immigration services, such as petitioning for the client’s family members to come to the U.S. or applying for the client’s green card, or adjustment of status. A family petition (I-730) allows a client to be reunited with family members overseas by granting family members derivative status, which enables them to apply for a green card. An adjustment of status application (I-485) is the process through which the client obtains a green card, which not only starts an immigrant on the pathway to citizenship but also provides numerous other benefits.
This project provides great opportunities for students to improve professionalism by interacting with clients, develop skills in interviewing a client from another culture, gain familiarity with the immigration process, and learn how to fill out, provide necessary documentation for, and file immigration forms. In addition, this project requires that students have excellent coordination and collaboration skills, since they will not only be working with a client, but also with a law student partner, an IS Director, and a supervising attorney to complete the application in a timely manner. Students should be prepared to work on their cases mostly during the fall semester. Students who complete their cases in the fall will have the option of taking additional cases in the spring.
Removal Defense Project
Students in this project represent ICE detainees in their bond hearings before the Boston Immigration Court. Bond hearings are separate and discrete proceedings that are not directly associated with a client’s underlying immigration case. Under attorney supervision, students will have the opportunity to work on a case team for a bond hearing. Case team members are responsible for developing a case strategy, visiting and interviewing the client in detention, gathering supporting documentation, preparing court filings, and presenting an oral argument to an Immigration Judge. Students will also participate in detention facility visits, help with client intake, and conduct community outreach.
In the first semester, student’s primary responsibility will be to observe bond hearings at the Boston Immigration Court and to assist with client intake. At the end of January, students will participate in bond hearing training, which will include an introduction to interviewing clients, a substantive review of bond eligibility requirements, an introduction into “crimmigration” and the intersection of criminal law and immigration law, and the opportunity to run a mock bond hearing case from beginning to end. In the Spring, students will work in teams of three to five to represent individual clients at their bonding hearings.
Participation in this project will allow students to gain familiarity with certain ICE detention proceedings and afford them an opportunity to develop client-interaction skills, oral advocacy skills, and fact-finding and case strategy skills. Students should note that while there are project activities in the fall, the bulk of incoming students’ work on the project will begin in the spring semester and extend into the fall semester of the next academic year.
This project is undergoing some changes in 2014-15 — stay tuned for more information.
The Policy Team evolved out of HIP’s previous work supporting Boston-area immigrants’ rights organizations with Know Your Rights trainings and legal support with Citizenship and DACA Clinics.
In 2013, HIP became a member of the Massachusetts Trust Act Coalition, a movement of local immigrants’ rights and civil rights organizations which seeks to improve relationships between police and communities by ending unconstitutional detention policies. HIP students drafted a legal memo signed by 33 law professors and used in advocacy efforts throughout the country; we have also provided policy analysis and legal research in support of our allies’ advocacy work at the local, state, and national levels.