McGeorge School of Law

Law Students and Alumni Assist Young Immigrants

October 18, 2012

Blake Nordahl

Immigration Law Clinic Supervising Attorney Blake Nordahl.

McGeorge law students and alumni have teamed up to assist young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration initiative on June 15, which the government began implementing on Aug. 15. The law school responded to the intense community interest in this initiative with five free community events.

McGeorge School of Law hosted its fourth annual immigration event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in the law school's Quad and Student Center, off 3200 Fifth Avenue. The focus of this year's fair was on helping young people apply for the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA allows young people who meet the specific requirements to receive temporary two-year deportation deferrals and work permits. The application process takes a large amount of work and requires extensive documentation. In addition, eligible young people need to carefully weigh the benefits and the potential risks before stepping forward to apply.

The free resources available to these young people, many of them still in school, are extremely limited in the Sacramento Area. McGeorge has partnered with the Mexican Consulate and important community organizations — Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, Asian Law Caucus, and Opening Doors — to offer this needed service. Blake Nordahl, the supervising attorney in the McGeorge Immigration Law Clinic, noted that this is both an outstanding service learning experience for our law students and a valuable resource for the community.

Trained law students, recent graduates with immigration law expertise and faculty provide information and individual preliminary consultations to potential DACA applicants and their parents during each community event. During September over 80 applicants were assisted at the first two events, held at Sacramento's Central Library on Sept. 11 and at the Mexican Consulate on Sept. 18. Two additional events occurred on Tue., Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, and on Wed., Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. on the McGeorge campus.

Applicants that received help at the four preliminary events are invited to attend the final DACA event at McGeorge on Sat., Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The young peoples' applications and supporting documents will be reviewed carefully, first by law students and then by volunteer immigration attorneys. This careful, two-stage assistance will help young immigrants gather the needed documentation and understand the risks in going forward with their DACA applications.

"Brian Lopez, '11 graduate, Rachel Balchum, '13; Sam Park, '14 and Scott Dyle,'13, have done a superb job of producing high quality materials in both English and Spanish to educate the community about DACA," Professor Raquel Aldana, one of the event's key organizers, said. "Their commitment to this project and the seriousness with which they have undertaken their roles under the supervision of Professor Blake Nordahl and Director Landsberg is very admirable."