Immigration Law

Over thirty percent of the population of Orange County is foreign born, and the immigrants here come from all over the world.  UCI Law is ideally situated to study the impact of that immigration has on the United States and the role that law can play in managing immigration flows, generating economic opportunity for immigrant and native born workers, and facilitating immigrant integration and citizenship.  The faculty at UCI law is dedicated to providing students with a rich set of opportunities to learn about these issues.  The Law School is also committed to providing students with a rich set of opportunities to collaborate with and help serve the needs of the burgeoning immigrant population of Southern California.


The first year curriculum at UCI Law helps to lay the groundwork for the study and practice of immigration law.  Specifically, Constitutional Analysis familiarizes students with the constitutional framework that constrains domestic immigration law, while International Legal Analysis gives them the tools to think about the international and transnational legal regimes that govern global migration.  Students can build on this foundation with upper-division courses such as Immigration Law and Policy, Issues in Comprehensive Immigration Reform, International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and an interdisciplinary Immigration Colloquium.  Over the years, a number of students have also engaged in independent research projects focusing on advanced issues in immigration and citizenship law under the supervision of full-time faculty members.

Hands-On Learning and Public Service

At UCI Law, students can get real-world immigration law experience through clinics and provide public service through pro bono work.  In the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC), students represent immigrants and immigrant organizations in a range of legal matters. All students handle at least one litigation case and one non-litigation advocacy project. The Clinic docket includes various litigation matters, including deportation proceedings in Immigration Court, federal and state employment cases, and advocacy before federal, state, and county agencies. The Clinic’s non-litigation advocacy work includes the representation of grassroots organizations, worker centers, and other groups in policy advocacy and community education.

Immigration pro bono projects include assisting lawful permanent residents with their naturalization applications, working on behalf of detained immigrants for the Esperanza Immigrants Rights Project and Public Counsel, working under the supervision of law firm attorneys in the preparation of U visa petitions for noncitizen crime victims, and providing legal assistance for refugees with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project.

Additional Opportunities

Students interested in immigration law have numerous other opportunities to explore these interest. UCI Law students have established a variety of organizations with an immigration focus.  The Immigration and International Migration Law Society focuses exclusively on issues of global migration.  The UCI Law chapter of the American Constitutional Society (ACS), the Orange County Human Rights Association (OCHRA), the Latino Law Students Association (LLSA) and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) have also hosted forums on immigration issues. 

Recent immigration-related events at the law school have included a day-long symposium on immigration detention issues sponsored by Human Rights First, two panels on comprehensive immigration reform sponsored by LLSA and by APALSA, and a film and discussion about immigration detention sponsored by LLSA, BLSA, APALSA and ACS.  Two years ago, UCI Law hosted a major national immigration symposium.  In summer 2013, a group of emerging immigration scholars will convene at the law school to discuss their work.  And in May of 2014, UCI Law will host the biennial Immigration Law Professors Workshop – a meeting of immigration law professors from across the country.

Across the UC Irvine campus, numerous scholars are engaged in the study of immigration from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.  Students at the Law School have the opportunity to engage with the interesting work that these scholars are doing.  Several UCI Law faculty are affiliated with the Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy, for example, and that center frequently hosts speakers on campus.


UCI Law’s faculty includes experts on a wide variety of immigration law subjects:

  • Image of Sameer Ashar

    Sameer Ashar

    Professor of Law: Immigrants Rights Clinic, Immigrants in the Workplace, Law & Social Movements

  • Image of Mario Barnes

    Mario Barnes

    Professor of Law: Criminology, Law & Society, Critical Race Theory, National Security Law
  • Image of Jennifer M. Chacón

    Jennifer M. Chacón

    Professor of Law: Criminalization of Migration, Forced Migration, Human Trafficking, Immigration Law & Policy, Immigration Enforcement, Refugee Law & Policy

  • Image of Bryant Garth

    Bryant Garth

    Professor of Law: International Human Rights, Law and Globalization

  • Image of Paul L. Hoffman

    Paul L. Hoffman

    Lecturer: Human Rights

  • Image of David Kaye

    David Kaye

    Clinical Professor of Law: Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights

  • Image of Annie Lai

    Annie Lai

    Assistant Clinical Professor of Law: Immigration, Workers' Rights, Discrimination Law

  • Image of Stephen Lee

    Stephen Lee

    Professor of Law: Administrative Law, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Law & Policy, Immigrants in the Workplace