Law 773 - Immigrants' Rights Policy Clinic

Joseph Berra

Joseph Berra

Clinical and Experiential Project Director
B.A. St. Louis University, 1981
M.Div. Universidad Centroamericana, 1990
M.A. University of Texas at Austin, 1994
J.D. St. Mary’s University School of Law, 1997
Course Description:

The Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic addresses broad-based, systemic issues of immigrants’ rights in a practical setting, with the emphasis on state and local engagement with immigration law and immigrants’ rights.  We will put the constitutional and statutory law of immigrants’ rights into practice.

In prior semesters, IRPC students have worked with community activists and local officials and administrators to draft local ordinances affecting immigrants and their families and communities.  IRPC students have also worked with community organizations in Southern California and other parts of the United States on access to K-12 and higher education; public funding for low-income immigrants facing deportation; and policies in states, cities, and school districts regarding their involvement with federal immigration enforcement.

We will not represent individual clients directly, but we will closely with people in immigrant communities to understand their needs and the solutions that the law may be able to provide.  We will collaborate with nonprofit organizations who are working on cutting-edge immigrants’ rights issues.  We should also expect some of our projects to arise out of the direct representation work of the law school’s Immigrant Family Legal Clinic.

The classroom component will meet for two hours weekly, often (but not always) with students in the two-credit doctrinal course on Immigrants’ Rights (Law 332), to cover key aspects of the law defining the state and local role in immigrants’ rights.  Other classroom component hours will devote time to skills development in the context of Clinic projects.

Immigration Law (Law 331) (offered in the fall) or its equivalent is preferred, but not a prerequisite.

This is a graded four-unit course, by letter grade (A to F), with the grade based on a combination of classroom engagement and your work on Clinic projects.

Schedule and logistics:
Much of the work on Clinic projects can be done on campus, but students will need to travel inside Los Angeles County to meet with collaborating attorneys, clients, and other stakeholders.  

Work on Clinic projects, in addition to preparing for and attending classroom sessions, will require a substantial time commitment — ten hours per week, or more, depending the timing and urgency of particular matters.

Please reserve Fridays for meetings with collaborating attorneys, clients, and stakeholders.  Unavoidable client and stakeholder needs may require you to miss a few sessions of other courses.

Some of the readings will be from Hiroshi Motomura, Immigration Outside the Law (Oxford University Press 2014).  Other substantive and skills-focused readings will be available on the MyLaw course website.