Born on May 12, 1953, Irene Scharf earned a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University at Albany (New York) in 1974, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School (Boston, Massachusetts) four years later. She subsequently gained membership to the Massachusetts Bar in 1978, to the Federal District Court Bar in 1979, and to the New York Bar in 1986.
Scharf has been a Professor of Law at the Southern New England School of Law in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts since 1990. In 1998 she became a mediator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Today she serves as Director of the Immigration Law Clinic and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Scharf laments that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, immigration regulations in the U.S. became stricter than they previously had been, particularly for undocumented Middle Easterners trying to enter the country. “[Before] it was just someone from Lebanon without a passport,” says Scharf. “Now it could be a terrorist. Now they have fewer judges, now they bring in substitute judges. They are under pressure to do cases quickly.”
In June 2004, Scharf was one of 491 college professors to sign a statement titled “Professors Call for Accountability for Human Rights Violations,” which was sent to all Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. This document condemned those U.S troops who, at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in the Spring of 2004, had subjected Iraqi detainees “to acts of torture and to cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.”