The USP works in partnership with the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) to provide undocumented students at UC Berkeley with free legal services and up-to-date information about immigration benefits.
We work in partnership to provide access to legal resources
Undocumented students and their families face a constant threat of deportation. For many students, access to legal advice or representation can be cost prohibitive. Therefore, in 2015, the Undocumented Student Program partnered with the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), a clinic of Boalt Hall School of Law, to provide access to an immigration attorney and other free legal support, including immigration law resources and a comprehensive referral network for other legal needs.
Through the USP/EBCLC partnership, two attorneys and two paralegals work full-time to help students navigate the complex immigration law system and help them take the legal steps necessary to become pre-documented residents. Pre-documented standing is a critical step towards work authorization, reprieve from deportation, and “advance parole” for educational travel.
I will become a doctor and work at a community clinic back in Richmond. The legal assistance provided by USP has enabled me to be who I am and fight for my future, without them I wouldn’t have DACA and wouldn’t have my summer medical internship – Psychology & Public Health student
Services we offer
Undocumented students are eligible for the following services:
- Free one-on-one legal consultation for themselves
- Free one-on-one legal consultation for their family members
- Free legal representation regarding immigration matters
- Financial support with a DACA application and renewal fee (until funds are exhausted)
- Access to legal orientation workshops
For students (and their family members) who are eligible to apply for DACA or another immigration status, staff will provide legal information, help map a pathway to legal status, and, in many cases, offer full legal representation for immigration matters.
Some cases will be referred to other units at EBCLC, or students and their family members may be matched with other pro-bono attorneys who will represent them at no charge.
Measuring our impact
Between 2019 and 2020 academic year, our legal support team assisted 216 undocumented students and their families with over 534 legal total consultations.
Legal Services Provided by USP’s Immigration Attorney
|Case Type||No. of Cases Handled|
|Adjustment of Status/Family-based Petitions||9|
|U Visa Applications||2|
|Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)||2|
|I-130 Petition for Alien Relative||6|
Funding for legal services
Currently, the program’s immigration legal support is funded by a generous gift from a private donor.
Moving forward, we hope to obtain sustainable support from the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Fees (CACSSF) to fund the immigration attorney position on an ongoing basis. Thus far, CACSSF has committed $50,700 per year toward the attorney position, which is half of the total annual costs for salary and benefits. Securing this funding brings the USP one step closer to fully institutionalizing legal security for undocumented students at UC Berkeley.
Currently, about 70 percent of undocumented students are using our legal services.
New opportunities to make a difference
With the advantage of an immigration team dedicated to undocumented students, we have learned a great deal of important information and discovered additional relief opportunities. Some of these opportunities have short qualification windows for applicants. Access to an attorney has already benefitted students who may have otherwise missed these opportunities, and will continue to prove valuable for future students.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR GETTING STARTED
- It is essential to ensure the undocumented students feel protected by their institution. Will your campus implement a policy to protect these students if DACA is overturned? What kind(s) of immediate legal support can your school provide to these students?
- Which organizations or networks can your institution partner with to help provide legal support to undocumented students?
- Are there any donors who might be willing to contribute funds for an attorney to provide services to undocumented students and their families? – When hiring an attorney, try to find one who knows the immigrant experience and who will understand the needs of the students and their families.
- Are there student fees or other institutional funding sources that can be tapped to help provide legal support to students?
Includes: Immigration Attorney Job Announcement