Raquel E. Aldana

Raquel Aldana

Position Title
Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law

King Hall

Raquel E. Aldana joined UC Davis in 2017 to serve as the inaugural Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity with a law faculty appointment. She returned to full time law teaching in 2020.

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.

Aldana has led multiple research projects and programs around gender violence, transitional justice, criminal justice, sustainable development, immigrant justice, and immigrant trauma. She has authored or edited five books and published over thirty law review articles or book chapters on transitional justice, criminal justice, sustainable development, inter-cultural legal sensibility, and immigration. She is the recipient of several research grants, including serving as Principal Investigator of Building Bridges: Narrowing the Legal-Scientific Divide in Immigration Forensic Assessments, UC Davis Academic Senate Interdisciplinary Grants 2019-2020. For more information about this collaboration, please visit the website, Compassion in Immigration.

Aldana’s research has focused on transitional justice, criminal justice reforms and sustainable development in Latin America, as well as immigrant rights. Her most recent publications include a chapter in a forthcoming Springer book titled  A Long Term Vision on Faculty Diversity at UC Davis in UPROOTING BIAS IN THE ACADEMY and a law review article titled  A Look Back at the Warren Court’s Due Process Revolution through the Lens of Immigrants as part of the 2019 University of the Pacific Law Review Symposium Volume on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Warren Court. Her most recent books include a co-edited volume titled  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.

Aldana teaches criminal law, asylum and refugee law and immigration law. She has also taught 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 specialized courses such as the Central American migration corridor and the Comparative Perspectives on Force Migration in the Americas.

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. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute (ALI), widely considered the nation's preeminent law reform organization. Aldana is also a Fellow of the American Bar Association and previously served as the co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers. In 2022, she was selected as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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 selected in 2018 to the inaugural UCOP President’s Chicano/Latino Advisory Council. She was recently elected as Chair of Latin American and Caribbean Council of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) and as a member of the the ROLI BOARD, and is serving 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.

Education and Degree(s)
  • J.D. Harvard Law School, 1997
  • B.A. English and Spanish, summa cum laude, Arizona State University, 1993
Honors and Awards
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity, UC Davis, 2017-2020
  • 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
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Immigration Law And Policy
  • Latinos And The Law
  • International Human Rights
  • Sustainable Development in Latin America
  • Central American Studies
Membership and Service
  • 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 (2014-2018), Chair (2020-Present) Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (2017-Present)
  • 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



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) (Springer 2021)

The Indispensable Ones:  A Story of Resistance from La Puya in From Extraction to Emancipation, Development Reimagined (edited collection, with Steve Bender) (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 Look Back at the Warren Court’s Due Process Revolution through the Lens of Immigrants, 51 U. OF THE PACIF. L. REV. 633 (2020) (with Thomas O’Donnell).

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 21 st  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).

Other Publications

Connecting Past and Present: Central America’s Forced Migration as an Unfinished Project of Building Just Nations Post-Colonization, Post-Conflict (with Mario Mancilla and Luis Mogollon, Border Humanitarian Health Initiative (2020).

Stakeholder Perspectives Report: November 09, 2018 Focus Group Findings on Migrant Legal-Mental Health Intersectionality (with Patrick Marius Koga) (2019).

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.