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Raquel Aldana

Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity and Professor of Law


J.D. Harvard Law School 1997

B.A., summa cum laude English and Spanish, Arizona State University 1993


Raquel E. Aldana is Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity at UC Davis and a Professor of Law at the School of Law. She joined UC Davis in 2017.

Aldana is a graduate of Arizona State University (earning a bachelor’s degree in English and another in Spanish) and Harvard Law School. She was a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before joining the McGeorge School of Law faculty in 2009. From 2006 to 2007, Aldana was a Fulbright Scholar in Guatemala.

Her scholarship has focused on transitional justice, criminal justice reforms, and sustainable development in Latin America, as well as immigrant rights in the United States. She has taught immigration law and international human rights, lawyering for immigrants, “crimmigration,” criminal law and procedure, international labor law, Latin American comparative law, international public law, international human rights, statutes and regulations, and the Central American migration corridor. In 2019, she co-edited From Extraction to Emancipation: Development Reimagined, published by Carolina Academic Press and the American Bar Association. Aldana also finished the second edition of Understanding Immigration Law with Dean Kevin Johnson and Professors Bill Ong Hing, Enid Trucio-Haynes and Leticia Saucedo.

Since starting at UC Davis, Aldana has received numerous awards including the American Bar Association Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, the UC Davis Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community and the UC Davis Office of Research and Policy for Equity Ubuntu Award for Inspiring Social Change. In 2019, Aldana was selected as an inaugural fellow of the Hispanic Association Colleges and Universities’ Academia de Liderazgo.

In June 2018 Chancellor May invited Aldana to join a task force to help UC Davis become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The HSI Taskforce submitted a report  forging a vision with concrete steps on how UC Davis can become a premier Hispanic Serving R1 land grant institution. Aldana was also elected to the UCOP President’s Chicano/Latino Advisory Council. She served on, and remains advisor to, the Latin American and Caribbean Council of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative, and was  elected a second term to the Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. Aldana is a Fellow of the American Bar Association and previously served as the co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers.


Subject Areas

Immigration Law And Policy, Latinos And The Law, International Human Rights

Selected Career Highlights

  • Associate Dean for Scholarship, Professor of Law, and Director of the Inter-American Program at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 2009-2017
  • Fulbright Scholar, Universidad Rafael Landivar, Guatemala City, 2006 and 2007
  • Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV, 2000-2009
  • Staff Attorney, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Washington, DC, 1998-2000
  • Associate at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Washington, DC, 1997-1998

Selected Publications


Understanding Immigration Law (Lexis-Nexis 2015) (3rd Ed.) (with Kevin Johnson, Bill Ong Hing, Enid Trucio-Haynes and Leticia Saucedo).

Global Issues in Immigration Law (West Academic Publishing 2013) (with Beth Lyon, Won Kidane, and Karla McKanders).

Everyday Law for Latinos (Paradigm Publisher 2008) (with Steve Bender and Gilbert Carrasco).

Co-Edited Books

From Extraction to Emancipation, Development Reimagined (edited collection, with Steve Bender) (American Bar Association and Carolina Academic Press 2018).

Vulnerable Populations and Transformative Law Teaching: A Critical Reader (Carolina Press 2011) (with SALT and Golden Gate).

Chapters in Books

A Long Term Vision on Faculty Diversity at UC Davis in Uprooting Bias in the Academy (with Joseph Moreno) (Forthcoming Benthamebooks 2019)

The Indispensable Ones:  A Story of Resistance from La Puya in From Extraction to Emancipation, Development Reimagined (edited collection, with Steve Bender) (forthcoming American Bar Association 2018).

The Challenges and Potential of an International Human Rights Regime to Manage Migration in Compassionate Migration & Regional Policy in the Americas (William Arrocha et al., eds. Palgrave Macmillan) (forthcoming).

Local Immigration Regulations after 9/11 in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in Contemporary Politics, Law, and Social Movements (Oxford University Press 2015).

Immigration Federalism and Rights in Immigration Regulation in Federal States:  Challenges and Responses in Comparative Perspectives (edited collection of essays) (Sasha Baglay and Delphine Nackache, eds.) (Springer 2013).  

A Reflection of Transitional Justice in Guatemala 15 years after the Peace Agreements in Victims of International Crimes: An Interdisciplinary Discourse (Christoph Safferling & Thorsten Bonacker, eds.) (TMC Asser Press 2013).

Learning in Mulukuku: A Journey of Transformation (with Leticia Saucedo) in Vulnerable Populations and Transformative Law Teaching:  A Critical Reader (Carolina Press 2011).

The International Rights of Migrants in Handbook on Human Rights (Thomas Cushman, ed.) (Routledge Books 2011).

Making Civil Liberties Matter in Local Immigration Enforcement (The Police Foundation 2009).

Of Katz and “Aliens”: Privacy Expectations and the Immigration Raids, 41 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1081 (2008), reprinted in AILA’s Guide to Worksite Enforcement & Corporate Compliance (Josie Gonzalez, et al. eds.) (2008).

Articles and Essays

A Reflection on Leading with Equity in Higher Education, __ U. of Pennsylvania J. of Law and Social Change__ (forthcoming).

A Comparative Reflection on Refugees and National Security: What We Should Learn from Europe about Responding to Homegrown Terrorism, 37 Immi. & Nationality L. Rev. 651 (2016).

Banning Metal Mining in Guatemala, 40 Vt. L. Rev. 597 (2016) (with Randall S. Abate).

Congressional Dysfunction and Executive Lawmaking During the Obama Administration, 91 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 3 (2016)

Intercultural Legal Sensibility as Transformation, 25 S. Cal. Interdisc. L. J. (2016).

Raising the Bar: Law Schools and Legal Institutions Leading to Educate Undocumented Law Students (with Beth Lyon and Karla McKanders) 44 Ariz. St. L. J. 5 (2012).

Transforming Students, Transforming Selves: Teaching Social Justice in Context, 24 McGeorge Global Business & Development L. J. 53 (2011).

Silent Victims No More?:  Moral Indignation and the Potential for Latino Political Mobilization in Defense of Immigrants, 45 Hous. L. Rev. 73 (2008).

Of Katz and “Aliens”: Privacy Expectations and the Immigration Raids, 41 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1081 (2008).

The Illusion of Transformative Conflict Resolution:  Mediation Domestic Violence Cases in Nicaragua (with Leticia Saucedo) 55 Buff. L. Rev. 1261 (2008).

The Subordination and Anti-Subordination Story of the U.S. Immigrant Experience in the 21st  Century, 7  Nev. L. J. 713 (2007) (Lat Crit Symposium Cluster Introduction).

On Rights, Federal Citizenship, and the “Alien”, 46 Washburn L. Rev. 101 (2007).

A Victim-Centered Reflection on Truth Commissions and Prosecutions as a Response to Mass Atrocities, J. of Hum. Rts. 107 (2006).

Aliens in our Midst Post-911:  Legislating Outsiderness Within the Borders (With Sylvia Lazos) (Book Review), 38 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1683 (2005).

The September 11 Immigration Detentions and Unconstitutional Executive Legislation, 29 SIU L. J. 5 (2004).

An Emerging Universality of Justiciable Victims’ Rights in the Criminal Process to Curtail Impunity for State-Sponsored Crimes, 26 Hum. Rts. Q. 605 (2004).

Peace Without Justice: Obstacles to Building the Rule of Law in El Salvador by Margaret Popkin (Book Review), 25 Hum. Rts. Q. 257 (2003).

The 9/11 “National Security” Cases: Three Principles Guiding Judges’ Decision-Making, 81 Ore. L. Rev. 985 (2002).

In Vindication of Justiciable Victims’ Rights to Truth and Justice for State-Sponsored Crimes, 35 Vanderbilt J. of Transnational L. 1399 (2002).

When the Free Market Visits the Public Schools:  Answering the Roll Call for Disadvantaged Students, 15 Nat’l Black L. J.  26 (1997-1998).

Other Publications

Investing in Rising Scholars and Serving the State of California, HSI Taskforce Report (Co-Chair).

Op-Ed, Debunking Three Myths Behind “Chain Migration” and “Low-Skilled” Immigration, Jan. 2018.

When More than Half of Law Graduates Fail the Bar Exam, Nov. 2017.

Travel Ban 3.0: Legalese Cannot Mask a Harsh and Misguided Policy, Sept. 2017.

El fin de “Pies Mojados, Pies Secos” y Sus Implicancias, ¿Qué Pasa Latino?, Feb. 2017, no. 27.

Chapter Contribution in SALT Consumer Guide for Social Justice Oriented Law Students (2014).

Una Reflexión Sobre la Conducta de los Defensores de Ríos Montt, Chile’s Public Defender’s Magazine (2013).

Local Ordinances After 9/11 in Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in Politics (2011).

Repairing the Past and Healing the Present: Gomes Lund et al. v. Brazil (2011) International Justice 1. P. 55-60 (translated to Russian).

SALT Statement on Immigration Administrative Reforms (with Beth Lyon and Karla McKanders) (2009).

Op-Ed, Immigration Raids Lead U.S. to a Moral, Legal Crisis, American Forum—National, June 5, 2008.

SALT Joint Statement on ICE Immigration Raids and Criminal Immigration Enforcement (2008).

SALT Statement on Post-9/11 Anti-Immigration Measures (with Steve Bender) (2007)

Steps Closer to Justice for Past Crimes in Argentina and Chile:  A Story of Judicial Boldness, Instant Analysis (11/17/04).

Partial Victory for Non- Citizens In INS Detention, 9 Nevada Lawyer 15 (November 2001)

Service Activities

The Association of American Law Schools, Member of the Program Committee on Assessment (2014); Curriculum Committee member (2011-2013); Chair of the Annual Meeting Presidential Program Planning Committee (2013)

The American Bar Association, Member, Member of the Latin America and Caribbean Council, ROLI (2014-present), Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (2017)

The Society of American Law Teachers/Board Member/C0-Chair Human Rights Committee; Co-President (2010-2012)

American Bar Foundation, Fellow (2017)

Lat Crit, Inc.

The American Society of Comparative Law

The American Society of International Law