Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic Receives $260k Grant to Create Training Programs to Aid Clients Facing Detention & Deportation

LIJC Staff Attorney Sandra Ruiz, Co-Founder Marissa Montes, Co-Founder Emily Robinson, Faculty Advisor Kathleen Kim and Staff Attorney Alejandro Barajas at an intake event at Dolores Mission Church.

The Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic (LIJC) at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles has been awarded a competitive $260,000 grant from the California Community Foundation as part of a collaborative effort dubbed the L.A. Justice Fund (LAJF) to create new programs to train attorneys and students to provide volunteer immigration relief services. The LAJF is a significant step forward on the part of L.A. County and the City of L.A. along with their philanthropic and non-profit partners to increase adequate representation in immigration court.

With surges in immigration enforcement leading to an increased number of individuals placed in removal proceedings, there has never been a more exigent need for pro bono representation,” said Emily Robinson ’12, LIJC co-founder. “We hope to address this demand, and the corresponding fear it is generating among immigrant communities, by maximizing the number of attorneys and students participating in immigration removal proceedings. We’re excited to engage members of the Loyola legal community and beyond on behalf of immigrants in need.” 

The grant will allow the LIJC to develop and implement a curriculum to train seasoned immigration attorneys on challenging removal cases and to serve as mentors to as many as 100 less-experienced advocates. The LIJC will also create the Removal Defense 101: LA Justice Fund Law Clerk Training and Placement program, a unique approach to ready interns for removal defense work and then place those students with other LAJF grantees to assist clients in removal cases. It will create a resource bank with webinars and materials to support the immigration removal defense efforts of its trainees and affiliates. 

In addition to LAJF programming, the LIJC will develop a new course to be offered at Loyola Law School on immigration bond. The first of its kind to be offered in Los Angeles County, it will train law students to represent clients and secure their release from immigration detention. 

“The most vulnerable members of our communities — children and victims of domestic violence — should not have to face even greater risk because they cannot afford legal representation,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We want to help keep families together by giving people in need access to the protections in our legal system, and that’s what the L.A. Justice Fund will do. This partnership shows that we value fair and equal justice for all Angelenos.” 

Loyola’s Immigrant Justice Clinic’s outreach efforts presently include weekly client intake at East L.A.’s Dolores Mission Church and Homeboy Industries. The clinic also conducts information sessions on Loyola’s downtown L.A. campus, East Los Angeles College and elsewhere on such topics as renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and accessing humanitarian immigration benefits. 

The LIJC has seen the demand for their client services surge in the past year. This client spike has been caused in part by the Trump Administration’s plans to end the DACA program, as well as related changes in immigration enforcement priorities at the U.S. Department of Justice. In response to the uptick in demand caused by federal immigration policy changes, the California Community Foundation is distributing $7,450,000 to just 17 L.A.-based nonprofit legal service providers.

The California Community Foundation grant will allow the LIJC to continue to expand the training it conducts for students and attorneys. With volunteer help, the LIJC has already assisted more than 500 DACA recipients with their renewals since January 2016. In the same time period, the Clinic has aided more than 2,000 immigrants through the naturalization process. Since its 2012 launch, it has provided complete legal consultations to more than 10,000 clients. 

About the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic

The Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic (LIJC) is the only law school-housed community-based immigration clinic in the United States. The LIJC’s dual-pronged mission is to advance the rights of the indigent immigrant population in East Los Angeles through direct legal services, education and community empowerment, while teaching law students effective legal skills and ethics in a real-world setting. Founded in 2012 by alumnae Marissa Montes ’12 and Emily Robinson ’12, the clinic has trained more than 50 students in immigrant advocacy. Learn more at http://www.lls.edu/lijc.