The University of Central Florida Legal Services Department, which is known for helping students with speeding tickets and underage drinking charges, plans to add immigration services to its list of legal troubles it can aid students with.
In a three-point memo — signed by Student Body President Josh Bolona and Student Legal Services Director, Patricia Dullaghan— UCF laid out the potential scope for its new service.
The memo states the university’s intention to add immigration services to the program, and to add an “‘immediate relative’ as someone who can be represented be the program if the student is the beneficiary of the immigration petition; adding the students spouse as someone who can be represented by the program in a join bankruptcy petition, page 6 (co-petitioner, or co-defendant).”
Bolona says that the memo is written to allow UCF to cover a wide variety of immigration issues. “It ranges from renewing your DACA to potential deportation, to filing through your parents,” Bolona, who is a DACA (Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival) student himself, said. “There’s just a long laundry list.”
While Bolona said this program may cover deportations on a case-by-case basis, Dullaghan said she had no immediate plans to challenge deportations. “I didn’t necessarily contemplate that,” Dullaghan said. “That’s why when I put immigration services, I didn’t want it to be so restrictive and then have to be always going to the Florida Bar asking can I do this. I wanted to word it broadly.”
Based on this “broad” language, some students are hesitant about what the program will look like in the future.
“I think it being used in a helpful way, there are entities that already help in this way, so I don’t think that’s negative of UCF to try to help people by adding on that service,” College Republican Chairwoman Sarah Gibson said. “But I don’t like how broadly this is written. As someone who is on the pre-law track, when something is broad, that leaves room for problems to arise later. Every situation is different and if there’s not a set way on how to handle those, it can be interpreted however people want it to be.”
While Dullaghan agreed, the new service has some “bugs” in it, Bolona is very excited for the program and believes it will make a big impact on the UCF community. “It’s great news but the complexity of immigration in this country, and the legality of it, confuses me, and I’m part of it,” Bolona said. “The goal is to get this approved and hopefully this continues and students who need these services can go and see if their case fits.”
As of today, UCF Legal Services cannot handle any immigration case, and they will not be able to until the Florida Bar Association makes its decision. Student legal services is funded by students via the Activity and Service Fees that every student pays per credit hour. Currently, Student Legal Services has a budget of $762,415 per year.
While the bar is expected to accept these changes, there is no projected implantation date for the new service.