Students and faculty from the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program spent a week in Texas volunteering at the Karnes Detention Center, where they met with fathers and sons who had been forcibly separated from each other under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy. They offer their thoughts on this powerful and eye-opening experience.
On Oct. 22, Lee Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer who spearheaded a national class action lawsuit against the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy on immigrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, spoke to HLS staff and students about the litigation’s claims and the ongoing efforts to reunite families.
With 29 clinics in a wide range of fields of law and policy, Harvard Law School students can develop skills in an experiential program that constantly adapts to their interests, as well as to new approaches and areas of the law. Here are four accounts from students using that opportunity to address pressing legal and social issues.
The Trump administration’s recent “zero tolerance” policies on immigration resulted in the separation of several thousand children from their families at the U.S. border. Harvard Law alumni from dozens of law firms have pulled together to help reunite children who had been forcibly separated from their families.
Many HLS alumni and students are engaged in legal and advocacy work related to immigration, including the situations of refugees and asylum seekers. For some of these lawyers, this interest predates their time at HLS, but has dovetailed with their coursework and hands-on learning during their time as law students.
The founder and director of Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic Deborah Anker LL.M. ’84 received the Federal Bar Association’s NGO Lawyer of the Year Joint Award on May 18. She was honored alongside Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at Hastings College of the Law.
‘Crimmigration’—the intersection of criminal and immigration law—is the newest policy area for the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC). In addition to its broader advocacy clinic, HIRC offers Phil Torrey’s crimmigration clinic in the spring: an opportunity for students to gain direct experience working on and contributing to case law in this young field.