As an IJC Fellow, Fuleihan will join the immigration department of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association.
Dalia Fuleihan (’18) has been named a 2018 Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellow. The prestigious award provides promising new lawyers with two-year fellowships at IJC host organizations. She is the third BU Law student to receive an IJC fellowship since its creation in 2014.
After a two-week training course with the IJC, Fuleihan will begin her legal career at the New Haven Legal Assistance Association working in the immigration department and aiding their efforts with asylum removal defense and immigration relief.
While in school, Fuleihan crafted a dynamic BU Law experience focused on immigration and human rights law. As a member of the BU Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the International Refugee Assistance Project, she engaged with an array of student groups, extracurricular and research opportunities with a continued focus on social justice. She was especially drawn to the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC).
“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do the human rights clinic. That was always my goal,” Fuleihan says.
During her 2L year, she worked on human rights advocacy in the European Union with a specific focus on the refugee crisis. The research sent Fuleihan to Bulgaria to conduct fieldwork—interviews and visits to detention centers—to understand the conditions under which refugees in Bulgaria were living.
After compiling the research, Fuleihan and the team drafted a report for the New York-based Refugee Solidarity Network and a local NGO in Bulgaria that documented the team’s observations of how the asylum system was working in Bulgaria as well as the conditions in detention centers, the relevant national, European, and international laws, and provided possible legal strategies to challenge some of the policies and rights violations they had observed. “The fieldwork was a really amazing experience and really made the work tangible,” she says, “it emphasized the importance of what we were doing.”
Her experience with the IHRC in Bulgaria helped her put into practice what she had learned in the classroom. The clinic offered her a different perspective on her client interactions, and the doctrinal classes helped her recognize the systematic problems instead of just the individual client’s.
“The problems [the clients] are facing are not because of them as an individual. It’s because there’s something larger going on,” she says.
In addition to her work with the clinic, Fuleihan took advantage of opportunities to intern for the National Immigration Justice Center and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The experience of working directly with clients and conducting research for nonprofit organizations gave her a first-hand look at possible future careers, and she urges current students to seek similar opportunities.
“Getting experience, there’s really nothing that can rival that and it’s so helpful with finding employment,” she explains. “Law school can be stressful and isolating but getting out of that and working with real people, it’s a good morale booster.”
Reported by Josee Matela (CAS/COM’20)
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