Nisa Ibrahim (’18) Awarded Department of Justice Honors Program Fellowship

Ibrahim, the fifth Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Program alum to earn this fellowship, will clerk for the Los Angeles Immigration Court.

Nisa Ibrahim ('18)With national immigration policy shifting as a result of actions taken by the Trump administration, Nisa Ibrahim (’18) will begin her law career in an evolving field. As a Department of Justice Attorney General Honors Program Fellow with the Los Angeles Immigration Court, she will clerk for a panel of immigration judges as they hear cases related to visas, green cards, and refugee status, among other topics. While her exact responsibilities are to be determined, Ibrahim looks forward to a dynamic first-hand learning experience.

“Immigration has become only more relevant since I entered law school,” she says. “I am hoping to get a lot of exposure to the workings of the immigration court—the way that the judges are applying these laws. How all of the developments… are going to be applied.”

While earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston University, Ibrahim took advantage of internships to venture into government affairs, legal services, and nonprofit work. This background includes serving as a constituent services intern for US Senator Edward Markey, a program intern for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, and as an administrative assistant for Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants.

Through these internships, Ibrahim found a passion for providing pro bono services and counsel for individuals who could not afford them otherwise. It sparked her interest in becoming a lawyer.

“One of the things that I realized quickly was, when I was a student, there really was a cap on how much you could help unless you are a lawyer,” Ibrahim says.

At BU Law, she immersed herself in organizations that related to her interest in immigration law. To strengthen her legal writing skills, she joined the International Law Journal and rose to become senior article editor. She also found a community within the Middle Eastern & South Asian Law Students Association.

Motivated to acquire relevant practical skills, Ibrahim took part in the Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Program during her 2L year. That fall semester, she also took an International Human Rights seminar. The balance of coursework and clinical work synthesized theory and practice. While gaining a foundational background in the classroom, the clinic provided a relevant, current events-driven accompaniment to call that knowledge into action.

“You wouldn’t necessarily think that immigration and human rights would have too much overlap, but working with refugees, it was interesting to learn about the international view of it. I was applying it on a more domestic level [within the clinic],” Ibrahim says.

Summer internships brought additional chances to engage outside of the classroom. Ibrahim spent her 1L summer as a legal intern at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in the US Department of Justice. Working in the Office of the General Counsel, she investigated complaints of immigration fraud through the Fraud Prevention Program and researched misconduct claims through the Attorney Discipline Program.

During her 2L summer, she worked with a Boston-area law firm drafting memoranda and conducting research on immigration law and its intersection with criminal law. With experience working for a large governmental organization as well as a law firm, Ibrahim made the choice to pursue the fellowship with the Department of Justice.

Now that she has graduated, Ibrahim is excited to begin her practice during a period of evolution in immigration law. Her area, Los Angeles, houses one of the nation’s larger court systems.

“These next two years will be really pivotal in the changes in [immigration] courts,” she explains. “I’m really looking forward to working with the judges, being able to see the work that goes on.”

Ibrahim hopes the two-years of practice will help guide her decision to work in immigration policy or direct advocacy. Until then, she looks forward to pursuing an opportunity that’s three years in the making.

“Working in government—combining my interests in immigration law and government—is where I saw myself going when I began law school,” she says. “It’s exciting to see that come to fruition.”

Reported by Josee Matela (CAS/COM’20)

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