Claire R. Thomas is an attorney, advocate, and professor interested in migration, statelessness, human rights, and empowerment for women and girls facing poverty and gender-based violence. She graduated from the University of Chicago and also studied at the Université de Paris X, Nanterre. She holds a graduate degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, a law degree from New York Law School, and was a Visiting Scholar at The New School’s Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility.
Currently, she is professor at New York Law School, where she directs the Asylum Clinic, a year-long immigration law clinic for adults and children facing removal from the United States, as well as teaches the introductory immigration law course. Ms. Thomas provides legal assistance for naturalization applicants through bi-monthly immigration clinics with CUNY Citizenship Now as a contract attorney. She also supervises two attorneys as a consultant with The Door’s Legal Services Center. In addition, Ms. Thomas volunteers assisting refugee mothers and children with the CARA Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas and with asylum-seekers in Tijuana, Mexico with the bi-national organization Al Otro Lado.
Previously, Ms. Thomas served as Director of Training at Safe Passage Project, a non-profit housed at New York Law School, in which she mentored pro bono attorneys representing immigrant children; supervised law students, fellows and staff; coordinated a monthly Juvenile Docket at the New York Immigration Court; planned, organized and conducted local and national trainings for over 5,000 interested persons; and engaged in advocacy efforts with other non-profit organizations as well as city, state, and federal agencies. Before, she advocated for the rights of African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern immigrants as a legal intern, then staff attorney at African Services Committee, a Harlem-based non-profit that assists persons living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Ms. Thomas provided pro bono representation for survivors of gender-based violence, including minors, in immigration proceedings. Ms. Thomas also directed “Projet Aimée,” African Services Committee’s women’s empowerment group for survivors of gender-based violence, funded by a Community Action Grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Ms. Thomas is a member of the Immigration & Nationality Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Her writings have appeared in various law journals and she is frequent Op-Ed contributor for news outlets. She was an opinion columnist for Anthropology News, a publication of the American Anthropological Association. She speaks French fluently and is learning Spanish.