Gov. Brown Signs Bill Protecting Rights of Immigrant Students, Faculty, and Staff

Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 21 into law earlier this month that would protect the interest and rights of immigrant students seeking to attain higher education. The legislation not only applies to students attending UC campuses but also California State Universities and community colleges.

The legislation passed regards the actions that are to be taken by the designated California institution in the case that an immigration officer were to step on campus to execute a “federal immigration order”.

“…advise all students, faculty, and staff to notify the office of the chancellor or president, or his or her designee, as soon as possible, if he or she is advised that an immigration officer, as defined, is expected to enter, or has entered, the campus to execute a federal immigration order,” stated the bill on the California legislature website.

While the legislation is mainly geared towards immigrant students, it also protects the interests of UC San Diego staff and faculty.

“The bill would add to the Donahoe Higher Education Act provisions that would require the Trustees of the California State University, the governing boards of community college districts, and independent institutions of higher education that are qualifying institutions for purposes of the Cal Grant Program, and would request the regents, to the fullest extent consistent with state and federal law, to: refrain from disclosing personal information concerning students, faculty, and staff, except under specified circumstances,” stated the bill.

In the case that a student, faculty, or staff member has already been detained by an officer, it is the duty of the institution to then reach out to that person’s emergency contact to notify them of their detainment as a result of them federal immigration order.

If under the circumstances that an undocumented student is detained or deported or in any other matter that prevents them from attending their appropriate university or institution, then their attending college would make reasonable efforts to aid and support them so that they may later return.

“…the college or university shall make all reasonable efforts to assist the student in retaining any eligibility for financial aid, fellowship stipends, exemption from nonresident tuition fees, funding for research or other educational projects, housing stipends or services, or other benefits he or she has been awarded or received, and permit the student to be re-enrolled if and when the student is able to return to the college or university. It is the intent of the Legislature that, in implementing this paragraph, California colleges and universities make reasonable and good-faith efforts to provide for a seamless transition in a student’s re-enrollment and reacquisition of campus services and supports,” stated the bill.

With the rise of immigration policies, the bill also states that institutions should designate certain staff members as points of references for such cases so that they may be of aid when there are aforementioned occurrences on college campuses. Staff members appointed to these positions are to withhold from disclosing information unless permitted by the state and federal education privacy law.

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