San Joaquin College of Law Launches New Clinic to Assist Immigrants by LawCrossing


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San Joaquin College of Law Launches New Clinic to Assist Immigrants
By Rebecca E. Neely

Both professors and students at the San Joaquin College of Law, located in Clovis, California, joined together to pilot a free student run
law clinic last fall at the Consulate of Mexico to assist legal immigrants with a variety of issues.

Over a period of months, Justin Atkinson, a lawyer and                   legal advice to be tremendous, perhaps even more than they
professor at the San Joaquin College of Law, along with law              can handle.
students, assisted over 200 immigrants with various legal
issues, mainly the process of legal immigration.                         There is an overwhelming need for immigration services in
                                                                         the Central Valley. According to statistics provided by the
In recent days, Atkinson, along with nine San Joaquin College            Public Policy Institute of California, in the last forty years, the
of Law students, were pleased to announce the official opening           number of California residents born abroad is five times what
of the Law School’s New American Legal Clinic.                           it was, and has grown from almost two million to ten million.
                                                                         Large numbers of the immigrants – almost half – have, over
Atkinson and the students help many people like Modesto,                 the years, become naturalized U.S. citizens. However, most
who’d been a legal U.S. resident for over thirty years, to bring         of these individuals live in areas of Northern and Southern
his family to live with him. He’d been scammed, and had                  California, and so have ready access to assistance with the
given $30,000 to an alleged ‘immigration consultant’. Not only           immigration process.
did the consultant take the money and run, Modesto wasn’t
able to get his family into the United States. However, with             Because the Central Valley is so underrepresented in
the help of Atkinson, Modesto’s paperwork was filed properly,            immigration services, sadly, fraud and scams have
and his family will be coming to live with him in about a year.          proliferated, underscoring the need for clinics such as these.
Stories like his, sadly, are quite common – hence, the need for
the clinic.                                                              The central purpose of the clinic is to not only assist legal
                                                                         immigrants; it’s to train lawyers by giving them hands-on
Legal immigrants who qualify for citizenship, legal residency            experience. According to information at the San Joaquin
or a change of visa can get free help at the clinic. Both law            College of Law website, the mission of the Law School
students and professors can assist legal immigrants with                 is to “educate and develop individuals to become highly
obtaining family visas or work permits. As well, they can                skilled attorneys and problem solvers who will benefit their
assist victims of domestic violence who may be in the country            communities through public and private service”. The New
illegally, but still qualify for a special visa to remain.               American Legal Clinic clearly fulfills the furtherance of this
Twice a week, the clinic will be open for business at Consulate
of Mexico. Appointments can be made at the San Joaquin                   Other law schools in the area have recognized the need for
College of Law campus in Clovis.                                         legal services, and have opened clinics. These include the
                                                                         University of California at Los Angeles and Davis.
Faculty advisers Gregory Francisco Gillett and Atkinson are
making preparations to assist an estimated 2,000 immigrants              Founded in Fresno in 1969 San Joaquin College of Law (SJCL)
in the spring semester. However, they expected demand for                is a private, non-profit law school.


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