History & Mission

Our Mission

Advocating for immigrant justice through clinical education, legal representation, litigation, and community outreach.

Our History

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (“HIRCP”) was founded more than 35 years ago by Clinical Professor of Law Deborah Anker L.L.M. ’84, a leading refugee law scholar and practitioner. Throughout its history, HIRCP has changed the course of international refugee law and domestic immigration law. Working closely with clinical supervisors, students in HIRCP have represented thousands of people from around the world fleeing persecution and fighting deportation.

Established in 1984, the Program’s Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic (“IRAC”) works in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services, and it was one of the first immigration and refugee advocacy clinics in the country. IRAC is best known for its ground-breaking work on gender asylum issues. Today, IRAC represents individuals in all aspects of their removal proceedings, including appellate review. It also engages in community outreach efforts, impact litigation, and policy advocacy to advance immigrants’ rights.

In 2011, HIRCP created a student-run practice organization known as the Harvard Law School Immigration Project (“HIP”). Working closely with HIP’s supervising attorney, HIP’s student board of directors sets the organization’s agenda each year. Students in HIP work on a range of limited direct representation cases, as well as policy advocacy and community outreach.

In 2013, HIRCP created a first-of-its-kind Crimmigration Clinic. The Crimmigration Clinic seeks to challenge the increasing conflation of the criminal law system and immigration system through strategic and impact litigation, policy advocacy, and direct representation. The Clinic’s cutting-edge work involves litigation in federal appellate and district courts on issues ranging from the crime-based grounds of removal to sanctuary cities and immigration detention.

The Harvard Representation Initiative (“HRI”) was launched in 2017 with the support of Harvard University to provide legal representation to members of the Harvard community whose immigration status is at risk. The HRI team also regularly engages in community outreach and conducts Know-Your-Rights presentations to respond to concerns raised by members of the Harvard community.