CSU Plan Offers Free Immigration Legal Services at All Campuses

Ana Navarrete Avina, the program coordinator of the UndocuSpartan Resource Center, speaks at an opening celebration for the center that was established in 2018. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Ana Navarrete Avina, the program coordinator of the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center, speaks at an opening celebration for the center that was established in 2018. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

The California State University (CSU) announced Aug. 28 a systemwide plan for the provision of free immigration legal services for CSU students and employees that includes SJSU.

“This is an important service for SJSU, for our community and the CSU system,” said Patrick Day, vice president for the Division of Student Affairs.  “We are committed to providing support, resources and opportunities for all students regardless of their citizenship status.”

Immigrant Legal Defense (ILD) will provide services for San Jose State University as well as other Bay Area and Central California campuses. ILD’s attorneys and accredited representatives will visit SJSU beginning in September with availability throughout the year. ILD has expertise in covering the full scope of immigration law and procedure. The office has represented thousands of unaccompanied minors and families seeking asylum, and individuals involved in detained and non-detained immigration proceedings throughout California. In addition to providing legal consultations, the attorneys are also available to consult with departments that deal with immigration policies on questions they may have.

Approximately 9,500 CSU students are undocumented and receive AB 540 waivers across the system’s 23 campuses. Undocumented students will receive priority in scheduling of appointments and receiving legal assistance, followed by students and employees who have questions about legal immigration and rights.

The UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center will support the new services by scheduling appointments and providing meeting space. Ana Navarrete Avina, the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center program coordinator shared an email to student, faculty and staff groups on Aug. 29 about the new services, inviting interested parties to sign up for appointments on one of the dates ILD will be on campus. Students and employees may also request a consultation with an immigration attorney outside of the scheduled dates by contacting the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center. More information about signing up for appointments can be found on the Center’s website.

All representatives of ILD and SJSU staff will practice strict confidentiality and any information provided while receiving services will remain protected, as has always been the case for students with AB 540 or undocumented statuses

The legal services are an expansion of SJSU’s existing support provided through the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center, established in 2018. The center provides a number of program services including personal and academic support, UndocuAlly Training, information for prospective students on paying for college, and connects enrolled students with community resources, among other services.

“I am delighted that we will be able to increase the availability of immigration legal services to the California State University community,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy White. “We remain committed to ensuring that all CSU students have the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals regardless of their country of origin. This inclusive foundation extends to our employees, who demonstrate their dedication to student achievement and success on a daily basis. These thousands of Californians are pursuing their dreams for a better future every day on CSU campuses. The expanded services and resources that will soon be available will bring support, legal guidance and some peace of mind to enable our students and employees to focus on academic and professional pursuits.”

Funding for the services initially was provided by a one-time allocation of $7 million from the 2018 Budget Act to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to implement direct immigration legal services programs on CSU campuses. California’s 2019-20 budget converted the same amount to recurring funding to maintain the services. Staff from CSU’s Office of the Chancellor have been working with the CDSS to design a systemwide delivery model for implementation.

To learn more about the rollout of services or for information about support services currently available for students and employees, please visit the CSU’s Resources for Undocumented Students website.