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A Visit with Justice Richard Sims

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jul 27, 2015

For more than the last ten years, I have had the opportunity to work with Legal Services of Northern California, which provides legal services to many poor and working families from Vallejo up to our state’s border with Oregon.  Many UC Davis School of Law students work for LSNC.

This last weekend, retired California Court of Appeal Justice Richard Sims, a member of the LSNC board, invited LSNC Executive Director Gary Smith (who also teaches a class at the Law School), John Davis (Treasurer of the Board and volunteer attorney), and me, along with our partners, to lunch at his home in the Sierra foothills.  Justice Sims lives in Dutch Flat, a small community in the Sierra foothills (about 10 miles from Colfax) originally established by German miners in the Gold Rush era. It was a lovely setting on a pleasant summer day for this group of LSNC supporters to get together.

All of us had to depart abruptly, however, as a fire, which later spread, appeared on the horizon.  It really was quite a sight. Fortunately, Justice Sims house was far enough away to avoid the fire.  

UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic Responds to Need for Representation of Unaccompanied Minors

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jul 22, 2015

Cross-posted from Immigration Prof Blog.

In 2014, thousands of unaccompanied minors (UUMs) crossed the border into the U.S. after fleeing their home countries.  These young people continue to arrive in the U.S. every day.  Many of these children are placed into removal proceedings where they are at risk of being returned to the very place they fled. The UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic responded to the need to bring immigration relief to this vulnerable population by hiring and supervising several recent graduates providing legal assistance to UUMs in the Central Valley and other underserved areas.  Continuing the work the 2014-2015 UUM fellows began, Rachel Ray ‘11, has expanded the initial work of the clinic as its new UUM Staff Attorney. 

Each of Ray’s young clients fled his or her home country, arrived to the United States without his or her parents, was detained by immigration enforcement, released to a family member or friend, and is now in removal proceedings.  One such client is a teenager from Honduras who elected to leave the only home she had ever known after her brother was brutally murdered.  Pregnant at the time, she had no choice but to risk crossing two countries in order to live safely with her mother in California.  She fears that, if she were to return to Honduras, the same people who murdered her brother will kill, kidnap, or otherwise harm her and her unborn child.  With Ray’s help, this young woman will seek asylum.   

Each of Ray’s cases is uniquely compelling, and each client desperately wants to stay where they feel safe: in the United States with his or her caregivers.  Ray works with her clients to terminate their removal proceedings by seeking asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U visas, or other relief.  Beginning in September 2015, a 2015 UC Davis School of Law graduate will join Ray and begin their legal career as a UUM fellow and take on an additional caseload under Ray’s supervision.

An Inspiring Saturday

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jul 13, 2015

I spent Saturday looking at the future of college education and law school students.  Saturday morning, I participated in the Hispanic Scholarship Fund's Youth Leadership Institute at the ARC Ballroom on the UC Davis campus.  The Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides scholarship and other support to Hispanic high school students thinking about college.  We had more than 100 students from around the United States -- including many prospective first generation college students -- attending programs throughout the week. Their Saturday was devoted to talking with successful Hispanic professionals.  I was one of the so-called "heroes" who talked with the students and enjoyed telling them about my experiences at UC Berkeley, Harvard, and UC Davis.  Another one of the "heroes" who talked with the students was King Hall alum Emilio Camacho ‘11, who, as an undergraduate, was a participant in the King Hall Outreach Program (KHOP). One student from the leadership conference handed me a note as I left one of the discussion groups.  It read, “Thank you for coming to speak.  I am from Winnetka, California, in Los Angeles County.  What you said about taking advantage of opportunities and not limiting yourself is so valuable to me.”

Mentioning KHOP brings me to the second event of the day. For lunch, I gave welcoming remarks to the students of this year’s KHOP, a program that the School of Law created in 2001 to increase the opportunities available to socioeconomically disadvantaged and first-generation college students to attend law school.  This year, as always, we have a great group of students, who will be spending time this summer learning about how to succeed in the competitive law school admissions process.  Associate Director of Admissions Scott Vignos has done a great job in organizing the program this year.  We have students from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco State, Sacramento State, and many other top universities.  I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the group in the King Hall courtyard.

It was an inspiring Saturday for me, and I hope the students were inspired, too.