support services

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those  
            who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."       
- Franklin D. Roosevelt                            
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                   Support Services for California Legal Services Providers

Current Work and Areas of Expertise

The Center is a state-wide legal services support center with recognized expertise in complex litigation and the substantive law relating to immigrants and refugees. A partial list of the Center's major litigation includes the following cases: Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) (lead counsel for state-wide class of undocumented children denied access to public elementary education because of their immigration status); Reno v. Catholic Social Services, 509 U.S. 43 (1993) (national class action on behalf of persons unlawfully denied legalization under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986); Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993) (national class action on behalf of children denied release on bail pending the outcome of deportation proceedings); League of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson, 131 F.3d 1297 (9th Cir. 1997) (state-wide class action challenging constitutionality of state proposition denying health care, social services and education to suspected undocumented immigrants); and Orantes-Hernandez v. Smith, 541 F.Supp. 351 (C.D. Cal. 1982) (national class of Salvadoran nationals seeking political asylum in the United States).

Our work currently focuses on the following: 1. Federal litigation in support of abused, abandoned, and neglected immigrant and refugee children eligible to legalize status as Special Immigrant Juveniles. 2. Enforcing the rights of children detained pending deportation or removal to appropriate placement and services. 3. Federal litigation involving efforts by state and local governments to enforce federal immigration laws. 4. Litigation, legislative advocacy and policy analysis to address the rights of immigrants to state driver’s licenses. 5. Protecting the rights of immigrant survivors of crime, human trafficking, and domestic violence. We also work in other areas of law and policy identified as priorities by IOLTA-recipients. CHRCL welcomes the input of Trust Fund programs into its priority setting process.
Legislative Updates

photoThese documents are briefings for attorneys and paralegals of Legal Service Providers and pro bono attorneys regarding current and proposed federal and California legislation that may affect low-income immigrants clients. We focus on proposals that would significantly improve immigration policy and decrease the exploitation of low-income undocumented workers. Provisions of particularly significant enacted or pending legislation are highlighted. Following the description of legislation enacted or pending, we have sometimes included media reporting and/or commentary by stakeholder organizations

Technical Assistance

CHRCL is committed to providing technical assistance to IOLTA-funded and other legal legal services programs. Please contact Peter Schey and Carlos Holguin to seek assistance on complex or unusual immigration, naturalization, political asylum, or constitutional law cases. We also provide general assistance on federal practice and procedure in class action cases.

Technical assistance is provided in a variety of ways depending on our resources and the needs of the local program and/or the client(s),  including  -

  1. Providing on-line information and litigation updates via the Center's  website,
  2. Discussing cases on the telephone or via e-mail, assessing possible approaches to a client's problem, and evaluating the merits of particular issues.
  3. Commenting on or recommending approaches in complex cases.
  4. Researching and analyzing legal issues.
  5. Providing written materials including research memos, model pleadings, briefs, etc.
  6. Evaluating draft complaints, briefs and other pleadings.

Training Materials


Constitutional Law for Legal Services Clients, December 2016

This manual is intended to convey to legal services and pro bono attorneys the basic information necessary to present constitutional claims on behalf of low-income clients and to encourage attorneys to explore whether constitutional claims may exist in a case, and, if so, how best to present them before administrative agencies or the courts. 


Representing Minors in Removal Proceedings, November 2016

This training manual is intended as a tool for immigration attorneys, BIA-accredited representatives, and other advocates interested or already engaged in the representation of minors in removal proceedings. This, like all other training materials prepared by the CHRCL are non-exhaustive and subject to continuous update to reflect the rapidly changing context of immigration law and policy in which we work and live.


Immigrant Children's Rights, November 2016

This practice briefing is intended as a tool for immigration attorneys, BIA-accredited representatives, and other advocates for the rights of immigrant children to better understand the evolving landscape with regards to key legal issues. They cover recent developments in cutting-edge litigation initiated and led by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) as well as updates from the various adjudicatory bodies involved in defining the relevant legal standards.   


Essential Elements of Asylum Practice, November 2016

This manual details the essential elements and framework of building and defending a successful asylum claim in immigration court.


Practitioners Guide to Advance Parole, June 2016

The focus of this practice briefing is on how advance parole can be used by many immigrants who have approved visa petitions or pending visa petitions to briefly travel abroad and return "with inspection" and become eligible for adjustment of status in the future.


Nuts and Bolts of Seeking Deferred Action Status, June 2016

The focus of this practice briefing is on how many immigrants who lack lawful status in the United States can use deferred action status in order to secure a minimum level of protection from deportation, in that they are law priority for removal, and authorization to work lawfully in the country. 


Updates in Immigrant Children's Rights SIJS and Asylum, June 2016

This manual focuses on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and refugee and asylum. 

2013 LGBT Legal Services Providers Handbook

The purpose of this manual is to provide lawyers and paralegals with low-income LGBT clients with immigration-related issues a guide to the rights of their clients under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and agency regulations and policies.

DACA Legal Service Provider Manual

The purpose of this manual is to assist attorneys and legal service advocates to answer questions about what DACA means, who is eligible, and what eligible individuals can do next.

Children's Rights Manual

The purpose of this manual is to inform legal service advocates about the rights of children under immigration law, public benefits available to immigrant children, prosecutorial discretion, and what can happen if a child's parents are removed.

Constitutional Law Manual (Updated 2014)

Due Process and Equal protection for Legal Services and Pro Bono Attorney.

International Human Rights Manual (Updated 2014)

The purpose of this manual is to inform legal service advocates about the fundamentals of international human rights. 

Class Action Litigation Outline, November 2011

These materials outline the general principles of class action litigation including standing, justiciability, class certification, jurisdiction and venue.


CHRCL is available to conduct training in California for legal services and community-based organizations in the areas of federal litigation, immigration and refugee law, and constitutional law. We will travel to your area to conduct training programs. Please write or telephone Carlos Holguin, (213) 388-8693, ext. 309, with training requests.

Training Information:

  • Upcoming Webinar Seminars on Constitutional Law, Immigration, Human Rights, and Prisoners' Right Issues- Register now!   Legal services providers and pro bono attorneys are invited to participate in our upcoming Fall series of webinar trainings provided by the staff of the Center for Human rights.  Register using this form.  The Center schedules webinars on the following topics: (1) Recent development in Immigration Law & Policy - learn about new policy and administrative changes, including the surge of newly arrived unaccompanied immigrant children; (2) Recent development in Constitutional Law - learn about development in 5th and 14th Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection provisions; (3) International Human Rights Law for Legal Aid Practitioners - Learn the basics of international human rights law and its application to social justice and poverty advocacy; (4) The Rights of Prisoners in Solitary Confinement and their Families - learn about the issues affecting California prisoners in solitary confinement and their families.  MCLE credit is available for CA attorneys.  Register here today.
  • Constitutional Law Seminar Retreats for Legal Service Provides - The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law is conducting two constitutional law seminars at two all-inclusive, 2 day (8 hrs total), 2 night retreats by the ocean that are free of charge to attendees.  For more information about and to apply complete and submit this form todayMore details are available on on our support services page

Training Materials:

    • The general principle of equal protection is that similarly situated individuals must be accorded similar treatment unless some legitimate purpose is served by disparate treatment. The training materials prepared for CHRCL's Equal Protection webinar discuss how cases are classified. 
    • Prepared as part of the fall webinar series, this power point covers the general principles of class action litigation for both federal and California cases.
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Webinar 12-28-11
    • This power point presentation discusses Special Immigrant Juvenile status and changes that have occurred since CHRCL's nationwide settlement in the case, Perez-Olano. For a copy of the settlement in the Perez Olano case, select this link.

TrainingThe Center conducts several annual trainings and seminars in constitutional law, immigration law, and human rights law as they apply to the work of legal services practitioners and pro-bono attorneys who advocate for low-income and vulnerable communities.  In 2014, the Center conducted training seminars for public interest attorneys in retreat locations in Capiostrano Bay and Capitola, CA.  Check our website regularly for upcoming training opportunities.

Litigation Support and Assistance


CHRCL devotes a substantial portion of its resources to co-counseling major litigation with IOLTA-funded and other legal aid groups. In some cases we will serve as lead counsel, in others as co-counsel, and in others as of-counsel, depending on the needs of the local program and the nature and scope of the proposed litigation. CHRCL combines its co-counseling litigation participation with hands-on training of legal services co-counsel on all aspects of litigation including investigation of potential claims, formulating a complaint, deciding whether to bring a case as an individual or a class action, establishing jurisdiction and standing, overcoming motions to dismiss, discovery, summary judgment motions, pursuing appeals, and winning attorneys' fees.

Priorities Survey

The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law is committed to delivering relevant and useful support services to IOLTA-funded legal services field offices, community-based organizations, and pro bono private counsel serving low-income residents of California. We are always interested in the views of legal services field offices, community-based organizations, and pro bono attorneys regarding the types of assistance such offices and organizations believe would be most useful in daily work on behalf of low-income California residents.

Your completing and returning the Center's survey form will help us deliver services useful to you. Please email completed Survey Forms to Peter Schey at pschey<at> Thank you.

Priorities survey form

Income Assistance Guidelines

Persons meeting the following income guidelines are eligible for free legal assistance from the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law Foundation:

 Size of family unit  Annual Income
 1 13,612
 2 18,387
 3  23,162
 4  27,937
 5  32,712
 6  47,487
 7  42,262
 8  47,037


For family units with more than eight members, add $3,820 for each additional member in a family.

Client Grievance Procedure

Download the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law's Client Grievance Procedure.

For the client grievance procedure in Spanish, click here.

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Websites: