Expanding UCLA School of Law’s role as a national leader in immigration law and boosting its robust immigration programming and clinics, the school has established the Center for Immigration Law and Policy with a $5 million commitment from alumna Alicia Miñana ’87 and her husband, Rob Lovelace.
With inaugural faculty director Hiroshi Motomura, the Susan Westerberg Prager Distinguished Professor of Law and a renowned authority on immigration law, the center launches at a time when U.S. immigration policies are shifting rapidly. Unprecedented numbers of people are seeking asylum at the U.S. border, and authorities increasingly are using the criminal justice system to monitor and restrict migrant populations. The center will be a hub for scholarship and advocacy, engaging community organizations, practitioners, lawmakers and experts in the field to develop and disseminate ideas at local, state, national and international levels.
“Given our home in the global city of Los Angeles and our outstanding faculty, excellent clinics and talented students working in immigration law and policy, UCLA Law aspires to lead the country in training the next generation of trailblazers and in charting the course ahead,” says UCLA Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin. “We share Alicia and Rob’s vision for the future and are incredibly grateful for their commitment to the school and to UCLA.”
The Center for Immigration Law and Policy will support UCLA Law’s nationally renowned immigration scholars and enhance the school’s existing and wide-ranging immigration programs, which include:
- The Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, which opened in 2019 at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles and is the nation’s only immigration law clinic on a K-12 public school campus. In its first year, law students in the clinic — which UCLA Law operates with the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies — provided full representation in nine cases for immigrant students and families, presented more than a dozen workshops for students, teachers and area residents, and conducted more than 50 consultations for immigrant students and family members about their legal rights.
- Service-learning trips to Tijuana, Mexico, where students work in collaboration with attorneys to provide know-your-rights trainings and legal orientation workshops to asylum seekers. Students also observe interactions between immigrants and federal authorities.
- Annual faculty-led trips to the border region of Texas, where students work with the Dilley Pro Bono Project to help migrant women and children held at the South Texas Family Residential Center prepare for their credible fear interviews, the first step of the asylum process.
- The school’s Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic has worked with the National Immigration Law Center and community advocacy groups in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, as well as in Nashville, Tennessee, and Milwaukee on local immigration-related policies.
Beyond bolstering these and other initiatives for on-the-ground engagement, the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy will publish briefings and reports on immigration policy, host conferences and symposia featuring top national scholars and collaborate with Southern California organizations working in the field. It will also launch a series of training opportunities for judges and legislators.
UCLA Law faculty leaders in U.S. immigration include:
- Jennifer Chacón, co-author of the casebook “Immigration Law and Social Justice” and an upcoming book on DACA recipients;
- Ingrid Eagly, whose groundbreaking work on family detention in the immigration system has been cited by federal courts;
- Hiroshi Motomura, a 2017 recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for his scholarship in the field, including the award-winning books “Immigration Outside the Law” and “Americans in Waiting”;
- Nina Rabin, a national leader in immigration clinical teaching and the director of the Immigrant Family Legal Clinic; and
- Tendayi Achiume, the faculty director of UCLA Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, who is an expert on international migration.
Miñana and Lovelace are engaged in a wide array of educational and community-based organizations in Southern California, including the UCLA Foundation, the California Community Foundation, Human Rights Watch, the Nature Conservancy, the Learning Rights Law Center and Value Schools. Miñana, whose family emigrated from Cuba to Puerto Rico in 1961, is an attorney in private practice and serves on the UCLA Law board of advisors. Lovelace is vice chairman of the investment management firm Capital Group.
“Being from an immigrant family myself, I feel a deep sense of responsibility and empathy toward immigrant families who want to make a better life and for the need in this country to be inclusive of those who for political, social or economic reasons struggle in their countries to find democracy and equality,” Miñana said. “UCLA Law’s faculty expertise and track record of developing leaders and innovations in immigration law and policy put it in the perfect position to become a still-greater force for justice at a crucial time.
“We are thrilled to provide additional resources to help the school deepen its impact and develop new initiatives in this area, and to train UCLA Law students to excel at the forefront of the next generation of immigration policymakers and scholars.”