Immigrant Rights Clinic
Students in the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) represent individuals and organizations on a range of legal issues, including deportation matters, workplace exploitation, and the advancement of civil and constitutional rights for immigrants. Students work under the close supervision of experienced clinical faculty to provide scarce pro bono legal resources to defend immigrants who have been targeted by aggressive federal and local law enforcement initiatives. Immigrant communities have also been sites for innovative social and political organizing, and IRC supports that work by providing legal and policy analysis in support of advocacy campaigns.
IRC students must have either completed Evidence or be enrolled in Evidence.
Students in recent semesters have:
- Litigated and won wage and hour cases on behalf of immigrant hotel workers
- Secured a U visa for a day laborer
- Defended children facing deportation who were referred to immigration authorities by the Orange County Probation Department
- Asserted a Convention Against Torture claim on behalf of a client in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- Litigated a Freedom of Information Act case against ICE
- Undertaken affirmative civil rights litigation on behalf of immigrants
- Authored a practice advisory on expedited removal at the border
- Conducted policy analysis and undertaken community education about the Secure Communities program and the referral of juveniles by Orange County to federal immigration authorities
- Helped coordinate legal clinics undertaken by the Warehouse Workers Resource Center and the Orange County Dream Team
- Policy report on juvenile referrals to ICE: Second Chances for All: Why Orange County Probation Should Stop Choosing Deportation Over Rehabilitation for Immigrant Youth (PDF)
Read our press advisory >
- White paper on Secure Communities: MISPLACED PRIORITIES: The Failure of Secure Communities in Los Angeles County (PDF)
- Complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief: Puente Arizona v. Arpaio (PDF)
Read the press advisory >
All students handle at least one litigation case and one non-litigation advocacy project. Students work in teams of two or three on all clinic projects. With the permission of the presiding judicial or administrative officer, students serve as the primary legal representative for their clients in all hearings before state and federal courts and agencies.
Foundational Lawyering Skills: Students interview clients, undertake fact investigations, disentangle procedural rules, draft complaints and legal briefs, conduct direct and cross-examinations, and negotiate with opposing parties. Through both intense individual immersion and collaborative learning across clinic teams, students are assured of exposure to a range of skills and knowledge bases.
Participatory Litigation: IRC contextualizes traditional legal skills in a participatory framework and students work with clients as collaboratively as possible.
Policy Advocacy: Modern legal practice requires basic policy advocacy skills, such as knowledge of legislative drafting, framing techniques, grassroots lobbying methodologies, and media advocacy, to complement litigation expertise.
Know Your Rights and Community Education: Students engage in know-your-rights and community education programs, especially ones constructed to be sustained by our community-based collaborators.
Lawyers and Client Mobilization: Students work with community-based organizers because lawyering alone does not advance justice. Through these collaborations, students explore the strategic and ethical challenges posed by a mode of practice that aims to mobilize clients, in addition to asserting legal rights and defenses on their behalf.
Strategic Judgment: As lead counsel on multi-modal advocacy projects, students participate and contribute to the development of social and economic justice campaigns on behalf of individuals and organizations.
In the News
- Alumna Leah Gasser-Ordaz (’14) quoted in news coverage of lawsuit against AZ Sheriff Arpaio – BuzzFeed
- Prof. Lai quoted in news report on IRC-ACLU-NDLON-lawsuit filed to stop Arpaio business raids – The Washington Post
- Immigrant Rights Clinic report helps end ICE holds on juveniles – Orange County Register
- Immigrant Rights Clinic partnership with RAIZ group noted – Orange County Register
- IRC’s Prof. Lai, Kelsey Galanter (’15) and James Buatti (’14) score win in teen’s residency case – San Francisco Chronicle
- Immigrant Rights Clinic’s Jessica Karp comments on federal immigration policy – The Washington Post
- Immigrant Rights Clinic 3L James Buatti explains impact of juvenile deportations – Voice of OC
- Coverage of Immigrant Rights Clinic’s report on juvenile deportation – Los Angeles Times
- Immigrant Rights Clinic report: O.C. leads state in child deportations (PDF) – Orange County Register
- Immigrant Rights Clinic: Probation officials referring minors to federal authorities – AP/SF Chronicle
- UCI’s Immigrant Rights Clinic sues over deportation program – Inter Press Service
- “Celebration Planned for Jose Ucelo, Day Laborer Done Wrong!” – OC Weekly
- Professor Ashar on including labor investigations in law clinic (PDF) – Daily Journal
- Immigrant Rights Clinic helps settle hotel workers’ dispute – Mercury News
IRC students helped 18 Long Beach hotel employees reach a $130,000 settlement with HEI Hotels and Resorts over denial of meal and rest breaks required by state law. The settlement arose from claims the employees filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Students Brian Olney (’13) and Angel Camino (’13) handled the settlement negotiations, and for the litigation, students Ari Yampolsky (’12) represented the hotel workers in the first set of hearings in April 2012, and David Rodwin and Emma Soichet (both ’12) came back after graduation to handle hearings for clients. Also instrumental in the case were Acrivi Coromelas, Sam Lam, David Koch and Irina Trasovan (all ’12), and the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center.
- Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown: Dean Chemerinsky cites clinic’s work in urging Governor to sign AB 108
- “Lawsuit: Day Laborer Faces Deportation after Anaheim Employer Filed False Police Report” – OC Weekly
- Exploring the human toll of a misguided policy: Immigration Rights Clinic students say Secure Communities program could lead to racial profiling – UC Irvine feature
- “The Dangerous Failings of Secure Communities in Los Angeles” (PDF) – Daily Journal Opinion
Staff: Debi Gloria, Law Clinic Administrator
PO Box 5479
Irvine, CA 92616-5479