​Berkeley pushes virtual free legal consultations for illegal immigrant students

The message echoed previous statements on the matter, but pointed to the current "heightened level of anxiety."

In a recent announcemt, UC-Berkeley reiterated once again that it stands in "support" of its "undocumented community."

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the University of California-Berkeley wants illegal immigrant students to know they can still access their free university-provided immigration lawyers online.

In a “message of support for UC Berkeley’s undocumented community,” sent to all students on Monday, Chancellor Carol Christ and vice chancellor for equity and inclusion Oscar Dubón reiterated that “every member of the UC Berkeley community is a valuable contributor to the university, regardless of immigration status.”

The message noted “many issues of concern” causing a “heightened level of anxiety,” specifically noting the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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The university pointed students to various newly-virtual resources available through its “Undocumented Student Program,” for those who “are or may be subject to an immigration order or inquiry on or off-campus.”

These virtual resources include “DACA Renewal Clinics” conducted by phone and Zoom, as well as free remote appointments with lawyers for “legal services in the areas of housing, health, immigration, education, and economic security,” for illegal students. Appointments with financial aid advisers are also specifically marketed to illegal students through the Undocumented Student Program.

In its announcement of solidarity, the school also promised to warn students in advance, whenever possible, when immigration officers would be on campus for “non-enforcement” activities like recruitment or visa application processing, noting that the U.S. “federal government has historically not engaged in immigration enforcement activity on college and university campuses.

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The message also provided a link to a brochure, distributed by the University of California, titled ”Know Your Rights if Approached by Immigration Enforcement Agents.” This document includes a detachable card meant to be handed to an immigration officer by an illegal immigrant choosing to exercise his or her right to remain silent.

”If you are concerned about facing immigration enforcement officers, you should prepare now,” warns the brochure. “Do not wait until an encounter to think about how you will respond. Plan with the help of an immigration attorney and plan together with your family.”

”Your plan for responding to immigration enforcement should address questions such as: whether to make statements, whether to provide documents, and whether to provide access to your residence. The information below provides a starting point for your planning,” the literature continues, before reminding illegal students that the university will provide them with legal services if they cannot afford a lawyer.

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