Claire R. Thomas ’11
Assistant Professor of Law
Director, Asylum Clinic
Claire R. Thomas ’11 is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Asylum Clinic at New York Law School. Her interests and expertise include U.S. immigration law, asylum and refugee law, statelessness, international human rights law, and immigrant access to public benefits.
At NYLS, Professor Thomas directs the Asylum Clinic, a year-long course in which she teaches law students how to represent individuals seeking asylum and other humanitarian immigration protections in the United States. She also teaches the introductory immigration law course and has taught a variety of other immigration-law related courses since she joined the faculty at NYLS in 2014.
Prior to NYLS, she was a visiting scholar, from 2016–2017, at The New School's Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. Professor Thomas also taught refugee and asylum law to undergraduate students at The New School as a part-time faculty member.
During the 2020–21 academic year, Professor Thomas was awarded a Fulbright Garcia-Robles U.S. Scholar Grant in Law to conduct research in Mexico. As a Visiting Professor at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, Mexico, she researched long-term solutions for asylum-seekers from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East who became stranded in Mexico due to changes in U.S. and Mexican migration policies.
As a consultant, Professor Thomas supervised attorneys and advised staff on immigration and family law matters at The Door's Legal Services Center, a New York City nonprofit organization working with immigrant youth. She also served as a contract attorney with CUNY Citizenship Now! and assisted immigrants applying for naturalization. Previously, she provided local and national trainings on immigration law to over 5,000 individuals with the Safe Passage Project and advocated for the rights of African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern immigrants at African Services Committee, a Harlem-based nonprofit organization.
Professor Thomas has been quoted in local and national publications on immigration matters and has published op-ed pieces. Her academic writing focuses on unaccompanied children, immigrant access to public benefits and to international legal protection.
She is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Law and Society Association.
Professor Thomas is licensed to practice law in New York and Illinois. She speaks French and Spanish.