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HIRC engages students in the direct representation of victims of human rights abuses applying for U.S. refugee and related protections. Students have the experience of fully developing an asylum claim, conducting client interviews, and preparing legal briefs. Students may also be involved in the development of position papers and innovative legal theories for amicus briefs filed in U.S. courts and with international tribunals. HIRC students participate in the Immigration and Refugee Advocacy seminar, which addresses substantive national and international refugee law, issues of credibility and proof, and fundamental advocacy skills. Through active participation in the Clinic and seminar, HIRC students are introduced to a complex body of international treaty-based law and norms, as well as to current interpretive controversies in refugee law. Students learn about the mediating role of institutions and legal processes in shaping the law and engage critically with complicated international and domestic legal issues.
At the core of HIRC's work is helping individuals in serious need: about 80 percent of students' time is devoted to direct client representation. In addition to refugee law, Clinic students learn about the human rights of immigrants, including unnecessary detention of immigrants, conditions of detention, and bond hearings. The Clinic teaches students about prosecutorial discretion, deferred action, and legal remedies for undocumented students. Clinic clients include women and youths eligible for protection under the Violence Against Women Act, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and U visas. The Clinic also represents individuals eligible for cancellation of removal based on their length of time in the United States, good moral character, and relationship to a U.S. citizen qualifying relatives. Clinic students help reunite families and apply for adjustment of status and citizenship for Clinic clients. HIRC's work also addresses issues at the intersection of criminal law and immigration. HIRC also works with student groups, including the Harvard Immigration Project, to sponsor speakers on a range of topics, including national immigration legislation, treatment of refugees around the world, and detention and deportation.
These are just a few examples of HIRC's activities.
-The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have engaged HIRC in the training of immigration judges and asylum matters with regard to issues relating to asylum law.
-HIRC published the first major treatise on U.S. asylum law, The Law of Asylum in the United States. Law of Asylum, 5th edition, is now available to order from West.
-HIRC provides advice, support, and supplemental services to advocates around the United States.
-HIRC students and teaching staff have argued for the recognition of the family as a protected group before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as before circuit courts and administrative bodies.
-HIRC students and instructors have also drafted guidelines, eventually adopted by the U.S. government, detailing gender-specific human rights violations as a basis for asylum status under U.S. and international law.
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