Congratulations to Professor Claire Thomas '11

Claire R. Thomas ’11 Wins Fulbright Award to Research Solutions for Asylum Seekers in Mexico

Congratulations to Professor Claire Thomas '11

She Is Director of NYLS’s Highly Active Asylum Clinic, an Adjunct Professor,
and a 2011 NYLS Graduate

New York, NY (April 23, 2020) – Adjunct Professor Claire R. Thomas ’11 has received a 2020-21 Fulbright Scholar Program Award to conduct legal research in Mexico, New York Law School (NYLS) announced today.

Professor Thomas is an accomplished and prolific immigration law advocate and scholar, Director of NYLS’s Asylum Clinic, and a 2011 graduate of NYLS. She will research long-term solutions for asylum seekers who hail from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East but become stranded in Mexico due to U.S. immigration restrictions. These “extra-continental asylum-seekers” constitute a growing vulnerable population whose needs are often overlooked.

Professor Thomas will conduct her research from ITESO Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente) in Guadalajara, Mexico beginning in early 2021. She will interview asylum-seekers, government officials, and immigration experts and will lead a training in Mexico for U.S. and Mexican lawyers to discuss asylum and refugee law and exchange ideas for best practices.

“I am thrilled to have been selected for a Fulbright award,” Professor Thomas said. “I look forward to learning from asylum-seekers in Mexico and to engaging with colleagues at ITESO. I am hopeful that I will be able to work collaboratively towards developing best practices for advocating for asylum-seekers in both Mexico and the United States.”   

“Powerful advocates like Claire Thomas help make the American Dream a reality,” said Anthony W. Crowell, Dean and President of NYLS. “Professor Thomas and her diligent Asylum Clinic students give vulnerable refugees the chance at a better life in the United States. I am proud that her expertise is being recognized and that she will undertake this important new work.”

About Professor Thomas

Claire R. Thomas focuses her advocacy and scholarship on migration, statelessness, human rights, and empowerment for women and girls facing poverty and gender-based violence. In addition to her teaching at NYLS, she provides legal assistance to naturalization applicants through CUNY Citizenship Now! and volunteers with the CARA Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas and Al Otro Lado, a binational nonprofit in Tijuana, Mexico. Previously, Professor Thomas served as Director of Training at Safe Passage Project, a nonprofit housed at NYLS that represents unaccompanied children facing deportation. She was also a consultant for The Door’s Legal Services Center, where she supervised attorneys representing immigrant youth. Professor Thomas began her legal career at African Services Committee, a Harlem-based nonprofit that assists people living with HIV/AIDS. She graduated from the University of Chicago and studied at the Université de Paris X, Nanterre. She holds a graduate degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and a law degree from NYLS. Professor Thomas was a Visiting Scholar at The New School’s Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility and is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee. She has been published in law reviews and scholarly journals, and she is frequently quoted in the press. She speaks French and Spanish.

About the Asylum Clinic

Students in NYLS’s Asylum Clinic are trained to represent immigrant clients under faculty supervision and to argue cases in the New York Immigration Court and before the Newark, New Jersey and New York Asylum Offices on behalf of refugees seeking safety in the United States. During the 2018-19 academic year, clinic students won seven asylum grants for their clients, who come from countries worldwide. In addition to their client work, Professor Thomas and clinic students conduct immigration legal screenings at John Jay College of Criminal Justice bi-monthly and have volunteered at detention facilities in upstate New York as well as on the U.S.-Mexico border. They also helped organize the 2019 and 2020 New York Immigration and Asylum Conferences at NYLS. Learn more.