Legal Challenges


1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act

This act barred undocumented immigrants from receiving any public benefits. This law prevented non-citizens from receiving any type of benefits on the basis of residency unless the same is offered to U.S. citizens regardless of residency.

1996 Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act

This act barred undocumented immigrants from qualifying for any federal, state, and local public benefits. Undocumented students are therefore ineligible for federal aid, such as Pell Grants and federal student loans.


1982 Plyler v. Doe

The U.S. Supreme Court held that K-12 students, regardless of immigration status, have the right to a public school education. The Court held that children of undocumented immigrants are protected under the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment. The ruling upheld that a state could not deny access to basic education to any child residing in the state, whether present in the United States legally or otherwise. The court explained that "denying innocent children access to a public education imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status." Plyler, 457 U.S. at 223.

1986 Leticia A v. UC Regents and the CSU Board of Trustees

The Alameda County Superior Court ruled that undocumented immigrants that had graduated from a California high school were eligible to attend the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) and avoid out-of-state fees. The decision allowed “Leticia A” students to be treated as residents for tuition and state financial aid purposes. From 1986 to 1991, UC students who met state residency requirements were able to receive state financial aid and were charged resident tuition fees.

1991 Bradford v. UC Regents

The Los Angeles Superior Court overturned the previous 1986 Leticia A ruling for both the UC and the CSU systems. The CCC followed suit.

2006 Martinez et al. v. Regents of the University of California

United States citizens who were forced to pay out-of-state tuition to attend California state colleges and universities claim that to the extent section 68130.5 (AB 540) applies to persons not in this country lawfully, it violates (or, to use a term that might be used at oral argument, is “preempted by”) federal immigration law in various ways.

UndocuAlly Training


The UndocuALLY training is an educational training dedicated to increasing the UCLA community’s awareness of the unique needs of undocumented students. We strongly encourage faculty, staff, and graduate students to attend the training sessions. The sessions are broken into 4 main categories: mental health, legislation updates, resources, and the allyship model, which provide information and tools on how to support undocumented students in higher education. The UndocuALLY training is held once during Fall and Winter quarters.

The referenced media source is missing and needs to be re-embedded.

Guide for Advisors

U.S. Department of Education Guide to Support Undocumented Students

The U.S. Department of Education Resource Guide hopes that educators, schools, and campuses will, as they see fit, draw upon the tips and examples in this Guide to better support undocumented youth and, ultimately, move us closer to the promise of college and career readiness for all.

UndocuCollege Guide and Equity Tool

With the UndocuCollege Guide and Equity Tool, Immigrants Rising "hope(s) that the following information and frameworks can help institutional leaders and educator advocates enhance their ability to advocate for undocumented students success and generate the momentum and political will necessary to address some of the most pressing challenges undocumented students face in higher education. We see this publication as a living document and we are confident that all the feedback we receive will only strengthen future versions of this publication."


Literature on Undocumented Students

Literature on Undocumented Students

For your reference, please find a short bibliography of scholarship on undocumented students. This list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive; it is an opportunity to become familiar with the issues that impact undocumented students in pursuit of postsecondary education.