This fall, undocumented immigrant students at Cal State Northridge will be able to access free legal help through a law clinic that’s the brainchild of two CSUN students, one of them an undocumented immigrant herself.
When Sevag Alexanian and Kenya Lopez ran together for president and vice president of the student body government last year, one of their ideas was to provide a resource for CSUN students who might need legal aid. They surveyed students about what kinds of legal advice they could use, from dealing with landlord disputes to traffic tickets. Immigration was at the top of the list.
The college of roughly 40,000 students estimates that 1,400 of them are undocumented.
Alexanian said given that number, it wasn’t surprising immigration was the serious concern that students said they’d like legal help with.
“Especially with how the political climate played out this particular year (and) CSUN being home to many, many undocumented students or individuals that come from undocumented families,” said Alexanian, who is about to start his senior year with a double major in business management and business marketing. “They really need to have that information, know your rights, know you next steps … so they can have peace of mind when coming to school.”
With help from key CSUN faculty, Alexanian and Lopez connected with Southwestern Law School, which already shares a combined bachelor’s and Juris Doctor degree program with CSUN. Southwestern students will volunteer in the Student Legal Clinic, directed by attorney and Southwestern lecturer Julia Vazquez, and consult with students looking for help on immigration issues.
Vazquez said the clinic will take on the cases of immigrant students seeking help and represent them. In instances where students want legal help on non-immigration issues, the clinic will refer them to a network of low-cost and pro bono attorneys, she said.
By Antonie Boessenkool, for LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
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