UC President Janet Napolitano announced last week that UC will earmark $8.4 million a year through the 2018-19 academic year in support of undocumented students across the system. The allocation includes $900,000 annually for the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center, which is run by the UC Davis School of Law.
The Undocumented Legal Services Center, based in the law school's King Hall, opened in November 2014, serving the six campuses that do not have their own law schools: Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.
The UC Davis School of Law already had its Immigration Law Clinic to assist UC Davis students, but, come this fall, the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center will take on that responsibility. The center also will start working with UCLA in the fall, and, some time after that, with Irvine.
Kevin R. Johnson, UC Davis law school dean, commended Napolitano for her funding commitment.
“President Napolitano once again has shown outstanding leadership in her actions with regard to the university’s undocumented students,” he said. “The DREAM Loan Program, new fellowships and financial aid, and funding for the Undocumented Legal Services Center will support undocumented students in ways that work to benefit the University of California and our state.
“The UC Davis School of Law is proud to play a part in this by hosting the Undocumented Legal Services Center.”
Maria Blanco, executive director, said the center sends attorneys to each campus twice per quarter for two days at a time, and staff members also travel around the state to assist family members of undocumented students.
“We do everything from complex family petitions that have allowed undocumented students or their family members to become legal permanent residents, to first-time DACA applications or renewals,” she said. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
“We also handle many cases of ‘advance parole,’ which allows an undocumented student who had DACA to travel abroad for education abroad or to visit a seriously ill family member.”
The center also assists with naturalization and ‘U’ visas, which are granted to crime victims who cooperate with police in their investigations.
Blanco said the center’s attorneys and other staff members have seen, talked to or had email communications with nearly 400 clients in a year and a half of operations (excluding the summer of 2015), in addition to putting on workshops on the various campuses.
Napolitano made her announcement at last week’s Board of Regents meeting, held in Sacramento. “We are committed to continuing a path forward for undocumented students at the University of California,” she said. “This funding will further strengthen the university’s undocumented student initiative, and help ensure that these students receive the support and resources they need to succeed.”
The funding will be divided among three priorities:
- UC’s California DREAM Loan Program — $5 million per year for at least three years. The program makes student loans available to undocumented students, who are not eligible for federal aid. Repayments will go back into the DREAM Loan fund.
- Student services staff coordinators and targeted undergraduate and graduate fellowships, as well as other financial support such as funds for textbooks — $2.5 million per year.
- Undocumented Legal Services Center — $900,000 per year.
Napolitano launched the Undocumented Students Initiative just weeks after joining the university in the fall of 2013. The initiative allotted $5 million for undocumented student support.
Board of Regents Chair Monica Lozano said: “From the earliest days of her presidency, Janet Napolitano has acted to ensure that our undocumented students are on equal footing with others seeking to fulfill their aspirations at UC campuses.
“These efforts have made the University of California a leader among universities across the nation in ensuring academic opportunity for undocumented college students.”