Sunday, June 24

UCLA groups host immigration law panel for undocumented students

UCLA community members have expressed support for undocumented students. Several campus organizations organized an immigration law information session to inform undocumented students of their rights. (Alyssa Dorn/Daily Bruin)

UCLA community members have expressed support for undocumented students. Several campus organizations organized an immigration law information session to inform undocumented students of their rights. (Alyssa Dorn/Daily Bruin)

Immigration attorneys and legal experts advised undocumented students about permanent residency options and how to interact with immigration officials Monday night.

About 100 students, faculty, alumni and community members attended the “Know Your Rights in Immingration Law” event at the UCLA School of Law. Several organizations, including the Undocumented Student Program, the University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center, IDEAS at UCLA and the Dream Resource Center hosted the panel.

Audience members received a small red card listing their rights and several other handouts with advice and answers to frequently asked questions.

At the event, Valeria Garcia, program director of the Undocumented Student Program said UCLA has the most undocumented students – more than 700 – in the UC, and that the university will work to protect them.

“We at UCLA have many undocumented allies,” Garcia said. “I really want you to know that the university is lucky to have you.”

[Related: UCLA, USC students collaborate on walkouts to protest marginalization]

Habiba Simjee, an attorney for the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center, said undocumented immigrants should remember to use their constitutional rights when dealing with immigration agencies like Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

She said immigration agents could not enter homes and arrest undocumented immigrants without valid warrants.

“Do not let ICE trick you into thinking they are the police,” Simjee said.

Simjee also discussed how undocumented immigrants could apply for different visas, including those for people with family in the country, and for victims of human trafficking and other serious crimes. She added undocumented immigrants could also apply for immigration relief under some laws that allow them to avoid deportation. For example, the Violence Against Women Act allows noncitizen victims of abuse to stay in the country.

Vivek Mittal, an immigration attorney and a managing attorney of the Undocumented Student Program, said Deferred Action for Child Arrivals allows children who arrived in the United States illegally before age 16 to apply for a two-year work permit and not be deported.

Mittal also discussed advance parole, a DACA benefit which allows undocumented immigrants to visit family, study or work abroad.

However, he said students with DACA should avoid traveling abroad after Jan. 20 because he and other experts did not know what would happen to DACA after Donald Trump’s inauguration.

[Related: Students, faculty urge UCs to safeguard undocumented immigrants]

Other panelists talked about immigration trial proceedings and what families could do if someone they knew was arrested and detained. The panelists said most undocumented immigrants are not detained. Instead, they are given a court date because detention centers have a limited number of beds.

They also recommended families consult with an attorney if a family member is summoned to court because the government does not provide a public defender or government-funded counsel.

Willy Morales, a third-year psychology student, said he found the information session helpful. Morales, who is an undocumented student protected under DACA, said that he did not know he had some specific constitutional rights mentioned in the presentation.

“This presentation made me feel more confident and more comfortable about my state in the United States,” Morales said.

He added he is not concerned about staying at UCLA after Trump is inaugurated, but he is worried about getting a job if Trump decides to eliminate DACA.

The event ended with a question and answer session in which panelists collected notecards with questions written anonymously by the audience.


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  • Chi Lau

    Why do unauthorized foreign nationals feel they have the right to rip apart our country’s immigration laws while millions of others make enormous sacrifices to follow the rules? I find the smug disregard for the rule of law displayed by so many undocumented aliens quite troubling.

    • Bruin

      Because if you’re not sympathetic you’re a racist, apparently

  • Pelosi’s Derrière

    I wonder how UCLA would feel about non-students walking onto their campus, sitting in on any class they like and cutting in line at the cafeterias without ever having been officially admitted – would they refer to these interlopers as “undocumented students” too?

    • sorrykb

      Since these *are* students, who were admitted to UCLA after meeting UCLA’s academic standards… Your point is meaningless.
      Also, you’re a bigot.

      • Bruin

        They get taxpayer dollars for in-state tuition that could have went to a California resident with parents with 18 years of legitimate tax returns from the IRS.

      • peepsqueek

        Calling someone a “bigot” does not strengthen your argument. This is a mathematical problem. Millions of people have come into the US without signing the guest list on the way in or providing verifiable documentation. If millions of people were illegally coming into this Country from China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia, would you defend them on moral principle over controlling our borders?

        If millions of Muslins were illegally coming into this Country without any verifiable documentation, would you defend their right to stay here on moral grounds? Please explain how and why? Or, just call me a “bigot”, which ever is easier.