Napolitano Releases Plan to Assist Undocumented Students

Following the results of the general election, UC President Janet Napolitano announced on Nov. 15 her plan to establish a “Working Group in Support of Undocumented Students at the University of California.”

According to an email sent out by Becky Petitt, vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion at UCSD, the working group is expected to “explore and provide counsel regarding [the University of California’s] response to any potential changes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

Although no additional details have been released, Muir College sophomore and co-chair of Migrant Rights Awareness Belén Hernández-Garcia told the UCSD Guardian that a meeting is planned with coordinators from the resource centers for undocumented students at each UC campus.

Alexis Buz, a senior double majoring in ethnic studies and public health and the co-chair of MiRA, believes that the working group should focus on providing legal and financial aid for undocumented students.

“At UCSD specifically, we need the funding for our undocumented student services coordinator and program to be permanently funded and stable,” Buz explained to the Guardian. “Following in the direction of several UCs, UCSD needs a full-time, onsite immigration attorney to meet the legal needs of our students and their loved ones.”

He also recommended finding a way to support students who are not covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which a policy which gives undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US before June 2007 and before their 16th birthday, a two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.

“There needs to be a holistic understanding of our students’ mental, academic and financial needs as they navigate their undergraduate and graduate education at UCSD,” Buz said.

There has been a movement encouraging UC officials to make UCSD and other UCs into sanctuary schools. Aditi Gautam, a Thurgood Marshall College senior studying economics and mathematics, believes this is an important step to take.

“If we can’t change the president, we can at least make our university an opposition of everything he stands for,” she told the Guardian. “Especially when it comes to undocumented immigrants and immigration.”

Garcia agreed with Gautam, explaining that deciding whether or not to turn the UC system into sanctuary schools should not be up for debate.

“Making UCSD and [all UC campuses] into sanctuary schools is necessary, is pressing, and it should not even be a debate,” Garcia said. “Questioning [undocumented immigrants’] right to peace of mind and their education is just unacceptable.”

Buz echoed these sentiments, saying that turning UCSD into a sanctuary school is imperative.

“Our communities across the state and country need to be protected and defended and becoming a public sanctuary system will directly reassure them that we are doing everything within our policy, legal and constitutional power to protect our undocumented families,” Buz added.

In response to the anti-Semitic and other discriminatory graffiti found around our campus, Garcia reminds students that they are not alone.

“Look for others who share the same fears as you through student orgs, community resource centers, residential spaces,” she explained. “Together you will find power.”

Currently, UCSD provides legal services and counseling to undocumented immigrants at the Undocumented Student Services Center. Among other services, it provides students with access to attorneys three times a quarter. In addition to this Petitt emphasized that UCSD’s student body has a commitment to inclusion and support as well.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, what appears to be attempts to create an atmosphere of

intimidation and fear among members of our campus community,” she wrote. “I reaffirm our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and encourage our community of scholars to exemplify our academic mission of engaging difficult issues intellectually and remaining open to hearing and learning from differing perspectives.”