In 2008 BHCHR launched a new area of activities: special projects. These projects are intended to give law students interested in human rights issues an opportunity to work on a variety of issues in partnership with national and international organizations. The special projects are designed and coordinated by members of BHCHR, and represent a way for students, especially 1Ls, to start to become involved in the varied practices of human rights law.
Our current projects are:
U Visa Advocacy
BHCHR has partnered with the International Institute of the Bay Area, a national leader in legal advocacy for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, in working on the advancing the reach of the Immigration benefit of the U visa. The U visa is available for immigrant victims of certain crimes who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of the criminal activity. U visas are an especially important protection for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as the status conferred with the U visa facilitates escape from further victimization. Nonetheless, this visa is not widely known both within immigrant advocacy community and amongst law enforcement. The U visa advocacy project offers students the opportunity to work directly with clients to prepare their U visa applications and inadmissibility waivers; to communicate with and draft memos to law enforcement detailing the parameters and benefits of the U visa; and research and draft public interest waivers that will be shared with the national network of practitioners working on these issues.
Resettlement Assistance for Iraqi Refugee
Recognizing the refugee crisis that is taking place in the Middle East due to the ongoing violent conflicts in Iraq, BHCHR has partnered with several organizations working on the ground in Jordan and Egypt, as well as national advocacy groups and a sponsoring law firm, to launch this project. Students will prepare application for resettlement for Iraqi refugees for submission to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the United States embassies, under the supervision of volunteer attorneys. Students will work directly with refugee clients living abroad, and will be responsible for follow up their cases once the application is submitted. In December 2008, two members of BHCHR traveled to Amman, Jordan to meet with officials of from the U.S., the UNHCR and local NGOs to discuss the current situation and protocols for refugee resettlement.
Gender Asylum Legislative Advocacy
In partnership with the national leading gender asylum experts at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, BHCHR will be working in this legislative advocacy project to pressure Congress to pass a law that would ensure refugee protection for women fleeing gender persecution in their native countries as well as other vulnerable groups such as children and LGBT individuals.