An individual arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is in a particularly vulnerable position in United States law. To begin with, they have no right to counsel. So while as many as 20% may have mitigating circumstances that make their case to remain valid, most have no access at all to legal advice on the matter.
But that’s why organizations like University of California Immigrant Legal Service Center exist. The UC Center is the first and only university system to provide free legal advice to undocumented immigrants and their families. It’s not abstract to the University of California; approximately 4,000 UC students are undocumented immigrants, many of them residents of California since infancy.
“From increased ICE raids to the repeal of DACA to the Muslim travel ban, Donald Trump and his administration are systematically attacking the immigrant community,” said billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer. “Many live in fear that at any moment they will be ripped away from their family with no one in their corner to defend them. Our partnership with the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center will allow more students and their families, in California and across the nation, to seek the legal guidance they not only need but have a fundamental right to receive.”
Tom Steyer is a mega-donor with a history of environment and social wallet-activism, and the partnership to which he is referring is the $2.3 million donation his nonprofit, NextGen America, is making to the UC Center and seven other immigrant aid organizations. His gift will allow the UC Center to hire full-time immigration attorneys, reducing their reliance on donated time from lawyers working elsewhere.
The other seven organizations to benefit from the massive donation are UC Davis School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic, UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Asian Americans Advancing Justice: Asian Law Caucus, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the Center for Community Change, the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.