Student Spotlight: Thao Ho ’24

Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar

Thao Ho

Tell us about your experience in the Immigrant Rights Clinic.

My time as a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) this past year was so rewarding and transformative. IRC uses a student-led, movement-oriented lawyering model, where a pair of students  represents an individual client in their removal proceedings while also campaigning to advance immigrant rights more broadly. I developed unique arguments and broader advocacy strategies on immigration issues ranging from citizenship arguments to habeas corpus litigation. In the process, IRC challenged me to practice creative lawyering alongside amazing peers, supervisors, and community members. 

Perhaps what I will carry with me the most is the importance of humility. I had the honor of working with a proactive community member on his case in front of the Board of Immigration Appeals. He reinforced for me how clients know themselves and their communities best and how important it is to continuously follow and trust this wisdom. Simultaneously, it has proven to me how immigration detention, enforcement, and deportation continues to disproportionately harm communities of Color and must be dismantled.

My time in IRC has helped me become a more client-driven, community-oriented, and compassionate advocate, and I will carry these lessons with me throughout my legal career.   

What first inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I worked at Asian Outreach at Greater Boston Legal Services as an undergraduate intern and, upon graduation, as a paralegal and community organizer. In my role, I worked alongside Vietnamese nail salon workers and Southeast Asian folks facing deportation because of prior interactions with the criminal legal system. It was my first exposure to what legal strategy can look like when it is led by community organizing. It was an immense blessing to follow the leadership of neighbors I grew up with as I witnessed how they fiercely fought for their community, even within a structure as daunting as the legal system. This experience inspired me to pursue a career in law to explore how legal services, critical education, and political advocacy can deepen the impact of broader grassroots organizing within immigrant communities of Color. 

Favorite place to relax in New York City?

I love to squeeze in a quick karaoke session in K-Town whenever I can!

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?

No day is complete without dessert!

Posted on June 15, 2023