Prerna Lal was born in the Fiji Islands, came to the U.S. with their parents when they were 14, and grew up in the East Bay, California.
Formerly an undocumented immigrant, Lal was integral in the establishment of advocacy networks led by undocumented youth, which mobilized thousands of undocumented immigrants into pushing for the federal DREAM Act in 2010, ending the deportations of undocumented youth, and winning the now popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from the Obama Administration. A social media strategist and content creator, Lal also helped with the creation of many local immigrant youth groups, providing direct support, mentorship and advocacy to individuals caught up in the immigration dragnet.
As an undocumented law school graduate, Lal was among the first in the country to obtain a license to practice law. Their high-spirited activism also made them a target of the U.S. government who sought to deport her (2010-2014), but Lal won lawful permanent residency after a long court battle. In April 2018, Lal became a United States citizen.
As a non-profit policy attorney in Washington D.C., Attorney Lal worked at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC to craft federal policies such as extended DACA, DAPA, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nepal and parole-in-place for the family members of Filipino war veterans (all of which are now under attack by the Trump Administration). Most recently, Attorney Lal served as the sole immigration counsel for over 500 students and their family members at the University of California, Berkeley, single-handedly creating and sustaining the first school-based legal services program in the United States. At the East Bay Community Law Center and UC Berkeley School of Law, Lal taught at the immigration law clinic and mentored a new generation of public-interest law students.
Lal has previously contributed to books such as Undocumented and Unafraid: Tam Tran, Cinthya Felix and the Immigrant Youth, and The Country I Call Home. Lal has also penned articles for The New York Times, HuffPost, TruthOut, New America Media, In These Times, and has been quoted in hundreds of news outlets in the United States and abroad.
Prerna Lal now owns and manages their own law firm, Lal Legal, where they continue to serve immigrants and shape immigration advocacy. They live in Berkeley, California.