UCLA today celebrated the opening of the Immigrant Family Legal Clinic at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown.
The first-of-its-kind clinic, a partnership among UCLA School of Law, the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the Los Angeles Unified School District, will provide no-cost legal support to students and their families. The nation’s only immigration law clinic on a K-12 public school campus, the clinic is also a rare collaboration between a public school district, a law school and a graduate school of education.
The celebration featured remarks by Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Mónica García, UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin and UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, as well as tours of the clinic and campus.
“UCLA Law is enormously proud to launch a clinic in the heart of one of Los Angeles’ most diverse neighborhoods, on a public school campus that is central to the lives and successes of immigrant families,” Mnookin said. “The Immigrant Family Legal Clinic provides a much-needed public service to one of the most densely populated immigrant communities in America as well as an unrivaled educational opportunity for our law school students.”
Under the expert supervision of UCLA School of Law faculty, law students are working with students who attend any of the six autonomous schools at the RFK complex, and their parents. The clinic delivers a range of legal services, including representing unaccompanied minors and asylum-seekers, and separately provides information and counseling about immigration and related legal matters to the broader community of students, teachers and residents.
“Justice is essential to ensure 100 percent graduation,” García said. “We are grateful to our partners at UCLA for their passion in bringing these services to our students and families. I am so proud to work with organizations that are committed to changing systems to better serve the whole child.”
In addition to UCLA and LAUSD, several Los Angeles nonprofit legal service providers and national advocacy organizations are partners in the clinic, bringing a broad array of resources to the school community and amplifying its impact. The initiative is funded in part by a $1 million gift to UCLA Law from an anonymous donor.
Among the six autonomous schools on the RFK campus is the UCLA Community School, a research-guided K-12 school with a curriculum committed to equity and access for underserved students in Los Angeles.
“Immigrant students and their families are making invaluable contributions to our neighborhoods and our nation,” said Suárez-Orozco, a world-renowned scholar in immigration and education. “It’s been an honor to work with them to establish the UCLA Community School. Together we are achieving important educational outcomes while also serving the broader needs of students, their families and the community. We believe the new Immigrant Family Legal Clinic will be an important part of that collaboration and provide greatly needed services that will benefit our students and families and further their educational success."
Koreatown is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with a vibrant mix of recent immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Korea and elsewhere.
The clinic began providing services in February. Research conducted at the clinic under the auspices of the graduate school of education will offer a deep understanding of the immigrant communities served by Los Angeles public schools, and will develop tools and strategies for successful educational outcomes.