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While direct representation to students and their families is core to the Center’s mission and work, our staff’s wealth of legal experience and expertise has allowed us to broaden our reach and deepen our impact through strategic advocacy.

With the loss of DACA looming in the courts, our Center is exploring new ways we can support DACA recipients as well as students who were never able to apply for DACA.

Medical Resident Advocacy
DACA’s end will affect both future and current medical healthcare workers. According to a 2020 Center for American Progress profile, 29,000 frontline medical healthcare workers are DACA recipients.  Currently, most undergraduate students do not have DACA and will likely never benefit from the program. Some of these undocumented students will choose not to pursue graduate medical education because they do not have work authorization—which is not required to attend medical school nor to obtain a medical license, but is required to train in the medical residency. A choice to broaden eligibility for medical residency will help ensure a diverse and vibrant healthcare workforce who share the lived experience of those they serve. Our Center is spearheading a group of immigration advocates passionate about inclusive access to healthcare professions in light of changes to DACA. The group drafted and disseminated a letter that serves as a call to action. We shared the letter with a variety of medical professionals and administrators in the UC system, and received appreciation for bringing the content of the letter to their attention. We hope the letter sets a foundation for future collaboration to support expanding options in healthcare for undocumented students.

Consultation Workshop for UC Employees
The UC alone employs almost 500 individuals with DACA. On June 10, 2023, UCIMM hosted our first immigration consultation workshop for UC employees with DACA. With the help of 14 volunteer attorneys, many of whom have offered ongoing support, we were able to remotely screen over 40 UC employees for all forms of immigration relief—including family, humanitarian, and business/ employment. Many of those screened learned about advance parole and its benefits for the first time. Several others require further investigation of their parents’ decades-old family-based petitions, which could open up family or employment immigration opportunities for those families (a.k.a. ”245(i) eligibility”). Finally, a number of attendees would qualify for H1B visas18 if employers are willing to sponsor them. We hope that this workshop will inspire similar workshops in other employment settings.

Inclusive Professional Opportunities
During the past year, our Center hosted volunteer and fellowship positions through the California Student Aid Commission’s Dream Service Incentive Grant and the UCLA Labor Center Dream Summer Fellowship. Inclusive work opportunities can uplift immigrants and others who are unable to engage in “traditional” employment, such as single parents and people with disabilities.

Here are some resources for Inclusive Opportunities: Income Generation Options for Undocumented Students Toolkit; DACA: Advocating for Inclusive Work Policies; and Fellowships and Other Non-Employment Based Opportunities for Undocumented Students.


In Fall 2021, University of California Office of the President consulted our Center as subject matter experts in the drafting of UC’s official comment to the Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) DACA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. We were excited and grateful for the opportunity to offer our ideas for improvements to the DACA program. Unfortunately, despite receiving thousands of comments urging DHS to expand access to DACA, it did not. 

On August 30, 2022, the DHS published the new rule that aims to protect DACA from ongoing litigation by incorporating it into the Federal Regulations. As discussed in our FAQ Regarding the New DACA Rule, the regulation limits DACA eligibility to the requirements outlined in the memorandum that first created the policy. Additionally, the ongoing litigation challenging the legality of DACA means that even those who meet the requirements of DACA but did not or could not apply before the federal injunction went into place in 2017 are still blocked from receiving a determination about their eligibility.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status ("SIJS")

SIJS is available to juveniles under 21 years of age who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents and for whom it would not be in their best interest to be returned to their native country. SIJS can provide work authorization, deferred action, and a pathway to citizenship. Over the past few years, SIJS has become a valuable option for our young clients, particularly for those without DACA. However, there are unique challenges associated with SIJS: 1. Applicants must first receive state court SIJ findings, which requires ample legal support; 2. Eligible youth “age out” (become ineligible) when they turn 21; and 3. A visa backlog prevents many SIJS youth from pursuing lawful permanent residency for several years.

Amicus Curiae: In Fall 2021, Immigrant Defenders Law Center requested support in challenging Guardianship of S.H.R., a case in which a California Court of Appeal issued a ruling that is extremely adverse to our SIJS clients’ interests. First, we submitted an Amicus Curiae* Letter in Support of Petition for Review No. S271265, asking the Supreme Court of California for review. After the case was taken up, in Spring 2022 we filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner S.H.R. On August 15, 2022, SIJS proponents celebrated a win when the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal's ruling.

* Amicus Curiae: A person or group who is not a party to a case, but has a strong interest in the matter, petitions the court for permission to submit a letter or brief in regard to the case in hopes of influencing the court’s decision.