Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Immigration Law Clinic

Southwestern students may find the clinic application, Immigration Appeals Practicum application and other details on MySouthwestern (log-in required).

Sample Law Student Application - for reference only (PDF)

Southwestern's Immigration Law Clinic provides free legal representation to low-income children and adults in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) (clients under the age of 21), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and U visa cases. The Clinic is staffed by law students who represent clients under the supervision of Professors Andrea Ramos and Julia Vázquez. Throughout the class, students will learn many facets of professional responsibility such as client confidentiality, responsiveness to client demands and accountability for their work.

"By working with real clients in real cases, students will learn to appreciate the value of public service and the importance of access to justice for low-income clients and underserved communities.

- Professor Andrea Ramos
Director of the Immigration Law Clinic

What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?

SIJS is a way for certain undocumented children to obtain lawful permanent resident status (a green card). A child may be eligible for SIJS if she is under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court, placed in the custody of a state agency or department, or placed in the custody of an individual (e.g. a guardian), and whose reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law. The juvenile court must determine that it is in the minor's best interest to remain in the United States and not be returned to her home country. The child must be under the age of 21 (at the time the application is filed) and not married. There are additional requirements.*

What is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

VAWA allows certain immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and are the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR/green card holder), or abused parent of a USC son or daughter (21 or over) to self-petition for lawful immigration status. The VAWA applicant must have been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by the USC spouse, parent, or son or daughter, or the LPR spouse or parent. There are additional requirements.*

What is the U visa?

The U visa is available to non-citizens who suffer substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of certain criminal activity. To be eligible for a U visa, the victim must possess information concerning the criminal activity and be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. The victim must obtain a certification from a "certifying agency" certifying his helpfulness in the investigation or prosecution. The crime must be a violation of a law of the United States or occurred in the United States. There are additional requirements.*

The Clinic is a semester course; it is five units and graded (20% of the grade will be based on class attendance and participation in classroom discussion and 80% of the grade will be based on performance on casework and community work, including relationship with clients, lawyering, research and writing and office management).

*This page is for informational purposes only. Please be sure to consult with an attorney for an assessment of legal options.


Southwestern Students Design and Implement an Immigration Outreach Campaign
On November 17, Southwestern students, under the supervision of Professor Julia Vázquez, joined volunteer attorneys from the Los Angeles County Bar Association Immigration Legal Assistance Project for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Self-Help Clinic at the Benjamin Franklin Public Library in Boyle Heights. This past June, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and met several key guidelines could request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion.

Inspired by their work with immigrant youth in the Immigration Law Clinic, students Stefan Ali, Vanessa Manzi and Vanessa Sanchez worked closely with Professor Vázquez to develop, organize and implement a three-part Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Outreach Campaign. Read more.