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Groundbreaking Path2Papers Initiative Receives $1.5 Million Grant

Professors Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer and Stephen Yale-Loehr have secured a $1.5 million grant from Crankstart for their groundbreaking initiative, the Path2Papers project. Housed at Cornell Law School, this new nonprofit venture helps DACA recipients in the San Francisco Bay Area pursue work visas and other pathways to legal permanent residency. Cornell DACA recipients can also receive consults through this project.

Since its inception by the Obama administration in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed an estimated 600,000 undocumented young migrants who arrived in the United States as children to obtain the right to work and temporary protection from deportation. However, with Congress’s failure to find a legislative solution and legal challenges entangling the program in federal courts, uncertainty looms over DACA’s future.

Path2Papers is one of the only programs in the country that combines experience in employer representation with expertise in evaluating employment-based immigration options for DACA recipients. Coordinated by Kelley-Widmer, Yale-Loehr, and several others, including Dan Berger ’96, an immigration lawyer and nonresident academic fellow at the Law School, the project aims to facilitate the transition of up to 40 percent of the approximately 12,000 Bay Area DACA recipients to alternative lawful immigration statuses. By doing so, it seeks to ensure that even if Congress or the courts terminate DACA, many recipients in the Bay Area can continue to reside legally in the United States, unlocking their full potential.

Path2Papers will employ a multifaceted approach to achieve its objectives. This includes providing personalized legal consultations to DACA recipients, training students and professionals in immigration law, hosting legal information sessions, offering referrals to legal service providers and pro bono attorneys, conducting training sessions for attorneys on handling DACA-related issues, and educating employers about visa options for their DACA employees.

Over the two-year grant period, Path2Papers will establish a robust infrastructure to deliver comprehensive legal assistance to Bay Area DACA recipients. During the first stage of this process, Kelley-Widmer is shifting the focus of her longstanding 1L Immigration Law and Advocacy Clinic to the Path2Papers project. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to build proactive support for DACA recipients through this cutting-edge model while integrating clinical students into the work,” Kelley-Widmer says. “And already, other organizations around the country have reached out about how to replicate this project in their area.” In addition, the project has hired immigration lawyer Krsna Avila ’17, a former clinic student, as a full-time attorney based in the Bay Area.

“This project teaches valuable legal skills to law students while also addressing a real need for a deserving and underserved population,” says Yale-Loehr. “In that sense it fulfills Cornell Law School’s mission of creating ‘lawyers in the best sense.’”

For more information about Path2Papers, visit

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