Long Beach State University will be offering free immigration legal services for students at the Dream Success Center starting Sept. 17.
The Central American Resource Center will be providing legal advice to the campus community and will be available for students, staff and faculty. The services will be focused on undocumented students.
As of now, the services are limited to legal advice, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program renewals and general assistance in filling out forms.
“We are looking into [how to implement] it right now, how we are going to keep it confidential. Our biggest priority is keeping the students safe,” said Jessica Rios, program coordinator at the Dream Success Center. “All inquiries that are made to the Dream Success Center staff are going to be kept very minimal and we’ll refer them directly to paralegals and attorneys.”
Sabrina Rivera the supervising attorney for CSULB will be the on-site legal adviser for students.
Rivera and her team have already begun offering legal services at other universities.
“Do we expect to be busy? Absolutely! That’s why we’re here,” said Rivera
According to the California State University, $7 million was allocated in 2018 for the legal services for all CSU campuses, excluding California State University Maritime Academy. CSULB is one of the last schools to start services.
The legal staff will begin meeting with students next week to discuss options they have.
“Direct legal immigration services, which can range from anywhere from general consultations about what benefits they qualify for to applications for citizenship,” Rivera said.
An important caveat to this service is that the legal staff is only available to students, staff and faculty at CSULB. Additionally, lawyers can not represent them or their family members in immigration court.
Laura Montiel is a studio art major and undocumented student, and she said she plans to use the services after being in a seven-year battle to obtain her U visa.
“We paid a lawyer and they told us ‘in three years you will be getting your papers,’” Montiel said. “Three years later, nothing.”
Students looking to use these services can find the representatives from CARECEN at the Dream Success Center located at SSC-290 on Tuesdays and Fridays.
“But now it’s changing, in that, you can direct them to someone here and they don’t have to step off campus,” Rios said. “It’s built into that community for them here, and they receive that support from somewhere they already feel safe.”