Recent UCLA School of Law graduate Dellara Gorjian ’20 has received the UC President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership for her advocacy on behalf of DACA recipients. The award was announced by President Janet Napolitano at the July 30 UC Regents meeting.
Gorjian came to Southern California from Canada with her family when she was 5 years old and is among the estimated 800,000 DACA recipients who would face deportation if the program is rescinded. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was enacted in 2012 by President Obama to provide protections for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Gorjian played a prominent role in the University of California’s successful Supreme Court challenge to the Trump administration’s effort to dismantle the program.
She submitted a declaration as part of the lawsuit, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, outlining her history and her goal of practicing law in the country where she grew up. Gorjian, whose parents and sibling are U.S. citizens, also advocated for DACA recipients in the media, emphasizing the diversity of people who would be affected adversely by the proposed change in policy. Several hundred UCLA students are DACA recipients.
On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s effort to end DACA was unconstitutional, though it left the door open for the executive branch to pursue the policy change in the future. Just this week, the administration announced new restrictions to the program as it continues to chart its next move.
“I am humbled to have had the opportunity to represent DACA recipients in this historic moment, but it is additionally so special to be able to represent UCLA and everything the school stands for in my advocacy efforts,” Gorjian says. “There is so much more to be done, and this recognition inspires me to continue in my efforts to be a leader and an advocate for positive change in the U.S.”