Aidin Castillo headshot

Alumna Leads Immigrant Legal Services Center

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Alumni Profiles, Culture

Immigration attorney Aidin Castillo ’07, J.D. ’11, has recently been appointed director of the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center. Prior to that, she was the directing attorney of Oakland’s Centro Legal de la Raza immigrants’ Rights Program.

She was appointed to the role shortly after Maria Blanco, who was the founding executive director, exited in June 2022. 

“The experience has been really exciting and meaningful for me. I feel a significant responsibility being in this role. The way I engage with students and families, the way I approach the work and my leadership in this work, all matters. I hope it reflects in the lessons I have learned in my own development as someone who was undocumented. I didn’t imagine when I was an undergrad that a program like this would exist at a UC level,” said Castillo.

The UC Immigrant Legal Services Center was created in 2014. It provides undocumented and immigrant students with legal-related necessities such as financial aid and legal support. The program operates throughout nine UC campuses.

At UC Davis, she double majored in political science and history, before attending the UC Davis School of Law. In law school, she participated in the Immigration Law Clinic, co-chaired the La Raza (now Latinx) Law Students Association.

As a student, she said she faced challenges surrounding her undocumentation.

“I remember coming to college and thinking that this was going to be the place where I would make a difference. However, it was hard at first knowing that I could use my voice. I attended school pre-DACA, so many of the challenges that I faced, current undocumented students are facing,” said Castillo.

Castillo started her career as a community organizer, a law clerk for the Immigrant Legal Resource center and an immigration policy attorney for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. 

Castillo said she believes that reform should be driven directly by impacted people.

“Throughout my career and experiences, I have learned that hope is a discipline that you have to work on. I was presented with a false narrative that only through citizenship and having the right to vote, would I be able to make a difference – but I found that the undocumented youth movement showed me how to use my voice and story to participate in civic engagement, and showed me that I was still able to bring change, including through narratives about what it means to be American.”