Clinical Professor of Law Deborah Anker and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) will receive a prestigious human rights award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the leading immigration bar association, in June.

Anker, one of the most widely known asylum scholars and practitioners in the United States, and director of HIRC, will receive the 2015 Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award.  The award is presented by AILA annually in recognition of outstanding service in advancing the cause of human rights.  The award was established in 1983 and renamed in 2003 to honor Arthur Helton, the lawyer and human rights activist killed in the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.

Said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow: “Debbie’s advocacy and scholarship have changed the lives of so many seeking refuge from the most oppressive and inhumane conditions around the world. She has taught and trained new generations of lawyers to be effective advocates for immigrants, asylum-seekers and marginalized people seeking lives of dignity and safety. This marvelous recognition of her work is so well-deserved and rightly draws renewed attention to the causes she has done so much to advance.”

Anker is the author of a leading treatise, Law of Asylum in the United States, and she has co-drafted groundbreaking gender asylum guidelines and amicus curiae briefs. Her work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and by various international tribunals. She is Senior Researcher for the Refugee Law Initiative, based in London. Anker is one of the most widely known asylum scholars and practitioners in the United States and a pioneer in the development of clinical legal education in the immigration field, training students in direct representation of refugees and creating a foundation for clinics at law schools around the country.

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program has successfully represented hundreds of refugees fleeing human rights abuses, and has authored appellate briefs, shaping the law in such critical areas (in addition to gender asylum) as children’s asylum, asylum for indigenous peoples, and interpretation of key terms such as “persecution” in international and domestic refugee law. Recently the Clinic wrote the groundbreaking amicus brief in the Board of Immigration Appeals decision, Matter of A-R-C-G-, establishing that domestic violence could be a basis for asylum.

The award will be presented during AILA’s Annual Conference on Immigration Law.  The ceremony is Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 5:30pm at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.