If you are a noncitizen looking for help with a case, or an advocate hoping to refer a case to HIP, please click here for more information about intake and referrals for each project.
HIP has four primary projects, explained below. Students are assigned to a project in the fall semester based on preferences expressed in their applications; Project Directors then assign students to case teams or tasks.
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 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, legal nonprofits, and community organizations 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 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
RDP (formerly known as the Bond Hearing Project), takes two separate, but related types of cases.
First, students in RDP 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 (usually 3-5 students) 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 possibly presenting an oral argument to an Immigration Judge.
In the fall, new students’ primary responsibility will be to observe bond hearings at the Boston Immigration Court one morning during the semester. Training will occur at the end of January and will include introduction to interviewing clients, relevant law, and the bond hearing process. In the Spring, students will have an opportunity to be on a case team.
RDP students can also work in pairs to write prosecutorial discretion letters on behalf of individuals in removal proceedings, in partnership with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). These letters request that the Department of Homeland Security drop a deportation case against an individual who might not have access to other forms of legal relief from deportation. A short training will occur in the mid-fall in order to prepare students to take on a letter in the fall or spring. While this is a recent addition to RDP, we hope that it will be a good opportunity for students to build client interviewing, research, and written advocacy skills.
The Policy Project uses the entire advocacy toolbox to support immigrants’ rights, from legal and policy research to legislative advocacy and coalition work. We are leveraging both the Harvard brand name, and the research talents of our students, to support advocates who are fighting for improvements to immigrants’ lives at the local, state, and federal levels.
For example, HIP is 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. Last year HIP students drafted a legal memo signed by 33 law professors that contributed to a landmark policy change in the cities of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville this summer.
In 2014-15, HIP is working closely with several coalitions of advocates to support three major Massachusetts initiatives:
- A bill to bring restore bilingual education and English language learning programs to MA public schools, where they have been banned for the last 10 years;
- A bill to extend drivers licenses to immigrants in MA, which would improve public safety and bring immigrant drivers out of the shadows;
- Building on successes in several cities, including Boston, we will continue our work to pass a Trust Act bill for the entire state.
All of our research and legislative projects will be relevant and timely, aimed at helping pass these bills this year. We’ll have the opportunity to sit in on coalition meetings and help plan strategy, pick research projects that are interesting and will help shape the public debate; and attend meetings with legislators as they begin to debate these bills. If you’re interested in learning how the skills of legal analysis that we work on in the classroom get translated into the real world to make real change–and actually participating in that process–the Policy Team is for you!