Defense of Undocumented and other Vulnerable Categories of Students

Dear President Napolitano,

We applaud your timely declaration in the immediate aftermath of the election that the UC administration “remain[s] absolutely committed to supporting all members of our community and adhering to UC’s Principles Against Intolerance.”[1]

Like you, we are gravely concerned by the statements made by President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, and in the aftermath of his victory, targeting particularly vulnerable communities such as undocumented Latinos and Muslim immigrants.

We support your subsequent statement to the UC Regents that “it is more important than ever that we preserve our core values, expand opportunity, and create and share knowledge in the public interest.”[2] We also support your decision to meet with representatives of undocumented students, and to institute a task force to help UC students who are in the country without legal permission and who may be at greater risk of deportation under a Trump administration.

We endorse the joint letter you wrote with CSU Chancellor Timothy White and CC Interim President Erik Skinner to the California congressional delegation asking for the restoration of year-long Pell grants.[3] CUCFA has long believed in the inextricable connection between affordable higher education and the benefits of all forms of diversity to knowledge-production, society, and democracy. We greatly appreciate the advocacy of our leaders on behalf of our students.

In short, we stand united with our administrators against any threats directed at our students and fellow employees, or any words or acts of hate that threaten our mission as a public research university committed to the betterment of our global society through teaching, learning, and the dissemination of new knowledge. We pledge to stand up for, support, and defend the most vulnerable among us, those deliberately targeted in the lead up to the election, and those who are now victims of hate in its wake – members of our community who are undocumented, people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims (and other religious minorities), immigrants, people with disabilities, and women.

To implement these policy principles, we urge that, in collaboration with the chancellors and other appropriate authorities, you:

  • Explore all legal venues to refuse to act on behalf of federal agents, and to withhold information on the immigration status, religion, and national origin of our students, faculty, or staff;
  • Not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law;
  • Instruct university police not to honor immigration hold requests, and not to contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being, or suspected of being, a person that lacks documentation;
  • Standardize a UC systemwide administrative office with responsibility for counseling DACA students on their educational situation;
  • Publicize that DACA student counseling services are available on a strictly confidential basis;
  • Continue to allow DACA-eligible students to pay in-state resident tuition;
  • Ensure student’s access to health care and financial aid within California law;
  • Invest in faculty and staff training for UndocuAlly modules developed by UC Davis;[4]
  • Commit to allow undocumented students to work on UC campuses in the event that the DACA provisions were repealed;
  • Take these measures before Inauguration Day so that DACA students can be assured of institutional support.

We are aware of the many calls to consider declaring all UCs “sanctuary campuses” before the inauguration of President-elect Trump.[5] While we support the spirit of this call, believing that Universities have an ethical obligation to assist undocumented students against threats of deportation, we are concerned that the idea of sanctuary campuses does not have any legal status, and agree with Cal State Chancellor White that declaring any public university a “sanctuary” may give a false sense of security “to the very people we support and serve.”[6] We urge you to study all legal and symbolic ramifications of declaring UC campuses “sanctuaries,” and to involve students, staff, and faculty in making that decision. Accordingly, we ask you to charge the announced task force on undocumented students with discussing explicitly the issue of sanctuary status and to make their findings public before January 20.

It is estimated that one third of the over 740,000 undocumented students in the US reside in California, and our state already has multiple progressive policies designed to support undocumented immigrants, including measures that help them access healthcare, driver’s licenses and student loans. We have a responsibility not only to reassure our students that we will stand by them in the face of deportation if laws were passed in that direction, but to lead the nation in rejecting policies opposed to the core values of our university.

For this reason we support your actions to date and reiterate our desire to work with you and other university leaders to advance these important goals.

On behalf of the Council of UC Faculty Associations Board,
Stanton Glantz,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Professor of Medicine, UCSF


[1] http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article113780763.html

[2] http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-ln-uc-regents-20161116-story.html

[3] https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc-president-joins-california-higher-education-and-uc-student-leaders-support-pell-grants

[4] http://undocumented.ucdavis.edu/education/ally.html

[5] http://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2016/11/proposal-turn-californias-massive-public-higher-ed-system-into-sanctuary-campuses-to-stop-trump-107463

[6] http://mynewsla.com/education/2016/11/17/no-sanctuary-at-cal-state-university-but-no-cooperation-with-trump-immigration/

 

2 thoughts on “Defense of Undocumented and other Vulnerable Categories of Students

  1. This is a great letter. In particular, the legal issues need to be explored. What can the UC system do when federal agents from ICE or Homeland Security show up, looking for our students? What recourse do we have? What risks are entailed?

  2. Hi David, your questions are precisely the ones that prompted us to opt for requesting that UCOP specify what legal measures of protection they can and/or intend to put in place, rather than pushing for declarations of ‘sanctuary status’ that might backfire. We will be putting pressure for UCOP to make public very soon the composition and results of the task force that was announced.

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