In partnership with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Foundation for California Community Colleges (Foundation), the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) is excited to announce that the host campuses for the Community College Immigration Legal Services Project have been selected, and services are expected to begin in early 2020. The Community College Immigration Legal Services Project will provide a wide range of free immigration legal services, including application assistance and education and outreach to undocumented students, staff, and faculty on California community college campuses. Empowering students with accurate and current information about immigration law and policy and increasing their access to legal representation by a qualified provider, will allow them to focus on and advance their educational and career goals.
The State of California’s 2018-19 Budget provided $10 million to the California Department of Social Services to contract with nonprofit organizations that could bring immigration legal services to the California community colleges across the state. CDSS partnered with the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges to deliver these services through a regional approach that is aligned with the Community Colleges’ seven Strong Workforce and Guided Pathways regions.
In order to meet the needs of the colleges in an equitable manner, the Foundation used a Request for Information (RFI) process to landscape the system and identify colleges to host immigration legal services. Colleges were asked to provide information about their ability to meet the requirements of the project, which included in-kind space to host services, staffing to support coordination and outreach; resources and services available for undocumented students and support from college administration; and the estimated number of undocumented students. After a thorough review of the 101 RFI responses received, paired with the capacity of the selected legal services providers, nine legal service providers have been contracted to serve the 65 colleges that have been selected in this initial pilot phase.
The Guided Pathways framework provided a base for these support services to be available in each of the seven regions, making it easier for students to get the support they need during these critical times. While not every college is a host, students from non-host colleges will be able to access services from host colleges. Additionally, over the course of the next two years, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is contracted to develop up-to-date information that students and faculty will be able to access via the CCCCO website. ILRC will also be hosting quarterly webinars on topics related to immigration law and policy.
This proposed project will address a critical need identified through the recently implemented Dreamers Project. The Dreamers Project, funded by The James Irvine Foundation, was a collaborative effort between the Chancellor's Office, the Foundation, and the nonprofit organization Immigrants Rising. The project served to lay the groundwork for longer-term programs or initiatives to meet the needs of undocumented students. As documented in a final report, the project found that access to free or low-cost legal services is one of the top three concerns for undocumented students in the CCC system. CDSS, the Foundation, and the CCCCO look forward to delivering these much-needed services to students across the state.