History & Mission

Our Mission

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

Our History

For over 30 years, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) has changed the course of U.S. and international refugee law and assisted people from around the world fleeing the most serious human rights abuses. Founded in 1984 by Clinical Professor of Law Deborah Anker L.L.M. ’84, one of the nation’s leading scholars and practitioners in this field, HIRC is among the oldest clinics at Harvard Law School and one of the first immigration and refugee clinics in the country. Since the beginning, HIRC has partnered with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), the largest provider of free legal services in Massachusetts.

HIRC is best known for its ground-breaking work in the field of gender asylum and on behalf of women refugees. The Clinic worked collaboratively with the U.S. government in the issuance of historic gender asylum guidelines in 1995, which set the stage for similar measures internationally. HIRC also established the first international precedent that rape constitutes torture before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

HIRC has won an overwhelming number of ground-breaking cases in immigration court, before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Asylum Office, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.