UC stood ready to support DACA students, 'no matter the outcome' of SCOTUS decision
- Prior to the Supreme Court's decision on DACA, University of California schools issued multiple statements vowing to "support" Dreamers.
- The court recently ruled against the Trump administration in its attempt to reverse the Obama-era executive order.
- The order granted legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on DACA, campuses in the University of California system issued declarations of support for their illegal immigrant students. The University of California System sued the Trump administration in 2017 over its effort to reverse legal protections for DACA recipients. The legal protections were granted as part of an executive order issued by then-President Barack Obama, in whose administration the now-UC System President served as the Department of Homeland Security Secretary.
The University of California-Berkeley issued a “message of support” for illegal immigrant students, written by Chancellor Carol Christ and Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Oscar Dubón, Jr., calling for students “to be mindful and respectful of each other during this time” and to maintain a “safe and open learning community.
“Every member of the UC Berkeley community is a valuable contributor to the university, regardless of immigration status,” the letter reads. “We recognize that there are many issues of concern that are causing a heightened level of anxiety for members of our community, including the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is expected soon. We remain committed to making sure Berkeley’s undocumented community experiences our university as a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive space.”
“Many in our community are experiencing another level of uncertainty as we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” UC Davis Chancellor Gary May wrote in an open letter prior to the justices' decision.
“I want to assure you that UC Davis remains committed to supporting our undocumented community, no matter the outcome of this decision...Our AB 540 and Undocumented Student Center is a model of empowerment, opportunity and equity. During this critical time, the center provides a sense of community and solidarity," the chancellor added.
The University of California system backed up Berkeley and Davis, saying, “UC is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for its undocumented students and to providing the resources for their success... UC will continue to welcome and support students without regard to immigration status, will not share student information without legal warrant and will not take part in joint efforts with any government agency to carry out federal immigration policy.”
In an email, University of California spokeswoman Sarah McBride wrote, “The University of California is very disappointed that undocumented students, some of the most vulnerable members of our community, are not eligible to access funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”
“However,” she continued, “these students will not be left empty-handed; the University will leverage other institutional funds to replace financial support that these students have been unfairly restricted from accessing.”
UC-San Francisco Chancellor Sam Hawgood joined the chorus with an open letter voicing support for DACA recipients.
“If the court strikes down DACA,” Hawgood’s letter, co-authored with Priscilla Chan, co-founder and co-CEO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, reads, “then every DACA recipient — including 29,000 physicians, nurses, health aides, and technicians — could be forced from the United States within two years. Some could have only weeks.” The letter concluded that the Supreme Court ought not to overturn DACA because it could impact the COVID-19 response.
“The University of California remains steadfast to its commitment of supporting undocumented students’ higher education, career readiness, and post-graduation opportunities,” UC Los Angeles Associate Vice Provost for Diversity & Engagement Elizabeth Halimah said in a statement accompanying a toolkit specifically advising illegal immigrant students on ways to generate income.
"We will work to ensure they have a path forward to fulfilling their aspirations during and after their time at UC,” Halimah concluded.
UC-Merced Associate Director for Educational Equity and Access Alejandro S. Delgadillo told UC students, “The University of California continues to stand with our undocumented communities throughout the UC system. Though undocumented students are excluded from the funds that the CARES Act provides to undergraduate and graduate students the UC will continue to ensure that our all students have secure housing, food security, and access to health services.”
Finally, UC-Santa Barbara pledged to defend DACA students, no matter what the Supreme Court’s ruling said.
“As a campus we are committed to the diversity of experience and scholarship interests that all students bring to our campus,” the statement reads. “It is vital to the excellence of our university. The journey and success of our undocumented student community will have important impacts on the communities and world in which we all live.”
“As we navigate these unprecedented circumstances we do so as a university community,” Santa Barbara officials said. “We stand firm in our commitment to provide inclusive access, aid, services, and support, especially to those experiencing a higher level of uncertainty.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Arik_Schneider