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For over thirty years, the Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic, in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), has sought to advance immigrants’ rights. Law students take the lead in representing low-income immigrants who are fighting deportation and seeking asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection in the United States. Students utilize a range of legal tools on behalf of their clients, including direct representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community outreach. The Clinic’s team is interdisciplinary. Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Liala Buoniconti and social work interns work closely with clinical students, staff, faculty, and clients to ensure the Clinic’s approach is holistic and trauma-sensitive. Students are either placed at HLS or at GBLS, Boston’s oldest legal services organization.

How to Register

The Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits and the clinical registration process by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.

Meet the Instructors

headshot of Sabi Ardalan

Sabi Ardalan

Director; Clinical Professor of Law

Wasserstein Hall, 3rd Floor
6 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Sabi Ardalan is the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program’s Director, as well as a Clinical Professor of Law at HLS. Sabi supervises and trains law students working on applications for asylum and other humanitarian protections, as well as appellate litigation and policy advocacy. She has authored amicus briefs submitted to the Board of Immigration Appeals, as well as to the federal district courts and circuit courts of appeal on cutting edge issues in U.S. asylum law. She teaches courses on immigration and refugee law and advocacy and on trauma, refugees, and the law. Sabi previously clerked for the Honorable Michael A. Chagares of Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Raymond J. Dearie, Chief District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. She also worked as the Equal Justice America Fellow at The Opportunity Agenda and as a litigation associate at Dewey Ballantine LLP. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in History and International Studies from Yale College.

headshot of Nancy Kelly

Nancy Kelly

Assistant Director of HIRC at GBLS; Senior Clinical Instructor

Nancy Kelly is the Assistant Director of HIRC at Greater Boston Legal Services and a Senior Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School. She previously worked as a Harvard Law School Human Rights Program fellow and also as an adjunct professor of immigration and asylum law at Northeastern University School of Law. At the Human Rights Program, Ms. Kelly initiated the nationally and internationally prominent Women Refugees Project, a centerpiece of the Clinic’s work. Among other honors, Ms. Kelly received the 2000 John G. Brooks Award of the Boston Bar Association for her work with refugee women and children, and for her teaching at the Clinic.

headshot of Tiffany Lieu

Tiffany Lieu

Clinical Instructor

Wasserstein Hall, 3rd Floor
6 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tiffany Lieu is a Clinical Instructor at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program. She supervises and trains students in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and in the Crimmigration Clinic on appellate and affirmative litigation as well as direct representation matters. Tiffany clerked for the Honorable Allyson K. Duncan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Honorable Keith P. Ellison on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She was previously a Stanford Public Interest Fellow and staff attorney at the National Immigration Litigation Alliance. She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. in History from Duke University.

headshot of John Willshire Carrera

John Willshire Carrera

Assistant Director of HIRC at GBLS; Senior Clinical Instructor

John Willshire Carrera is the Assistant Director of HIRC at Greater Boston Legal Services, as well as a Senior Clinical Instructor at HLS. He is a nationally known researcher and practitioner with numerous high-profile immigration and asylum litigation victories to his credit. In 1987, he directed the Ford Foundation national research and organizing project on the implementation of Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court decision that established the right of all immigrant students to a public education in the United States. He has received the Dow-Gardner-Landrum Award for outstanding commitment to legal services to the poor and the annual legal services attorney award from the Massachusetts Bar Association, among others.

headshot of Cindy Zapata

Cindy Zapata

Senior Clinical Instructor; Lecturer on Law

Wasserstein Hall, 3rd Floor
6 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Cindy Zapata is a Clinical Instructor in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, and a Lecturer on Law. She supervises and trains students in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and in the Crimmigration Clinic. She coordinates various community outreach efforts, including Know-Your-Rights presentations and Advice and Counsel sessions in the greater Boston area. As the supervising attorney for the HLS Immigration Project, a student-practice organization at HLS focused on immigration-related efforts and advocacy, she supervises students on various projects including removal defense, community outreach, and immigration applications. She was previously a litigation associate at Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP. She holds a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law, and a B.A. in Political Science from Queens College – CUNY.

Staff Members

Liala BuonicontiLicensed Clinical Social
Alma Martinez
Anna WeickProgram
Shayenne WashingtonAdministrative

In the News

  • Denial of Justice: The Biden Administration’s Dedicated Docket in the Boston Immigration Court

    In 2021, the Biden administration established fast-tracked removal proceedings, known as the Dedicated Docket, targeting asylum-seeking families who recently arrived in the United States. This report analyzes the impact of the Dedicated Docket on asylum-seeking families in the Boston Immigration Court. The Boston Dedicated Docket is the largest in the country, with over 20,000 asylum…

    June 22, 2023

  • HIRCP Urges Reversal of Biden Administration Asylum Ban

    The Biden administration’s new rule, which took effect yesterday and has already been challenged in court, will unjustly prevent refugees from accessing protection at the southern border in violation of domestic and international law. The inhumane and unlawful rule will lead to the return of vulnerable refugees, including women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other survivors of…

    May 12, 2023

  • BREAKING: Advocates File Civil Rights Complaint on Behalf of Detained Immigrants Against Plymouth County Correctional Facility

      Advocates from the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN), Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts (PLSMA), Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, MIRA Coalition, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, and other organizations have filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, asking Attorney General Andrea Campbell to open an investigation…

    March 10, 2023

  • 25 Million Sparks

    Join us in welcoming back Andrew Leon Hanna (HLS alum, Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur, Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholar) for a special lunchtime book talk. A Financial Times Best Book of the Year, 25 Million Sparks: The Untold Story of Refugee Entrepreneurs (Cambridge University Press) tells the story of three Syrian women entrepreneurs in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, and of the broader global…

    March 7, 2023