Back to School

Students make their way across the Cal State Bakersfield campus during the first day of school.

Cal State Bakersfield's Associate Vice President for Student Affairs James Drnek knows exactly how stressful and daunting the legal process can be for immigrants hoping to become United States citizens.

He experienced it firsthand with his partner, Francisco Patron.

"My partner is from Mexico, and he went through all the legal channels to become a citizen," Drnek said. "It was hellacious, horrendous."

Sometimes students — who already have plenty of stress and responsibilities placed on their shoulders from college, work and other obligations — have to worry about similar struggles. To assist CSUB students, employees and their families, the university is joining 21 other Cal State University campuses to provide free legal immigration services. 

Attorneys from Immigrant Legal Defense will be available to assist with a variety of immigration services, such as seeking advice on how to help someone out of detention, paperwork for naturalization and citizenship, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewals and the difference between federal law and California law.

Hours by appointment are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Walk-in hours are 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. Walk-in hours are first come, first served. Services will be held at the Dream Resource Center/MAGEC on the first floor of Student Housing West Rohan Hall. 

Priority will be given to undocumented students, staff and faculty. ​

Drnek said the 26 appointments scheduled for the next two days are full, but more dates will be available throughout the semester. 

Other than this resource being offered as a social justice service, Drnek explained, it all comes back to student success.

"When a student has a significant barrier, it affects their ability to perform and be successful," he said. "It’s our hope that providing legal services to students and employees will help them be successful because they don’t have to worry about themselves or a family member dealing with immigration issues."

Currently, services will take place two days every month this semester: Oct. 8 and 9, Nov. 12 and 13 and Dec. 10 and 11. Appointments can be made at

Drnek noted the university is looking to add more dates in the future.

Services are also limited to CSUB students, faculty, staff and their immediate family members, and there are no plans to make them available to the Bakersfield community.

It is estimated that approximately 9,500 CSU students are undocumented and receive AB 540 waivers — which allows eligible undocumented, legal permanent resident and U.S. citizen students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities — across its 23 campuses, according to the CSU website.

One of CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny first decisions when she arrived to campus last year was to provide funding to student resources, Drnek explained, and make sure students and employees know they can feel safe on campus.

"It’s important for people to know they’re welcomed and valued," Drnek added.

For more information, visit or contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs at 661-654-2161.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

(12) comments


I sent this to the NEW CSUB President and am awaiting an answer.....

Are you out of your mind offering legal services to illegal aliens, especially for staff and employees! Why are you hiring illegal aliens? It is against the law to hire an illegal alien to any state position. You are abeting this hiring and are a criminal. Did not take long for you to show your progressive left wing spots! Resign today and explain why you can allow illegal aliens to remain on the payroll! How many on you staff are illegal? Im reporting this situation to the Border Patrol.


Your tax dollars at work....


My daughter goes to CSUB. She earned a scholarship at Liberty because she academically worked her tail off and was part of the honors program her freshmen year at Cal State. Now her sophomore year her scholarship was taken away because I made a little more and she also got a part time job teaching kids how to swim. This kind of story where the American Tax payer is penalized for working harder, than the typical Democrat freeloader and or illegal/non-citizen, just infuriates me. This is garbage, promoting garbage for Blue liberal garbage's sake. The

California taxpayer is screwed, just so Mr. Drnek can get screwed.


She earned straight A's her Freshman year if you were wondering.


Cal State Bakersfield's Associate Vice President for Student Affairs James Drnek loves illegal aliens and poll smokers. Who knew?


Soooooooo glad I moved out of California when I retired. When is the cal state system going to start flying in first class more illegals house them provide layers and educate them all on the legal taxpayers dime while the whole time the legal taxpayers are struggling to send their kids through at full price. Cannot last forever.


legal aid for the undocumented is a very good thing.....become documented is a very good thing...Vote Blue in 2020

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Just curious- would you be so in favor of this program if those students were only given legal status and not able to become naturalized citizens (i.e. no voting privilege)?

Asking for a friend...


“Priority will be given to undocumented students, staff and faculty”

So employees of the California State University system are illegal ? We all know numerous students are. We are paying for them to attend along with numerous American students. I don’t have a problem with education, I do have a problem paying for everyone’s way to get it along with their free phones and other subsidies. So is this just more job security for CSUB and the rest of the University Systems.... ??

Inconvenient Truth

It's worse than that:

Your tax dollars are being used to educate illegal students who will compete against your own children for jobs, and contribute to all the problems California Democrats wring their hands over:

More Illegals = More CO2 => More 'Global Warming'

More Illegals = Higher Housing Costs

More Illegals = Lower Wages

More Illegals = More Crime

If current policies continue; California is demographically doomed to eventual 3rd World status.


More illegals, more Co2.....who would have thought Trump's wall would contain bad air? Thanks for my morning laugh.


Good point. Did the state knowingly hire these "undocumented" staff and faculty? Where did they get the "documents" proving their eligibility to teach? It used to be that obtaining state employment through fraud was reason for immediate dismissal. Has the law changed?

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