For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Dec 06 2016
by Johana Guerra-Martinez

California's Unified Defense of DACA Across All UCs, CSUs and CCCs

By Johana Guerra-Martinez - Dec 06 2016

The announcement of sanctuary campuses has become increasingly popular as more and more sites are providing urgent protection for their undocumented student populations. While some strongly support these programs for the sake of these students, especially in California, there remains some opposition in Texas against sanctuary campuses. Even more so, the call to protect DACA has become more pressing as universities try and retain the progress that has been made in support of these students’ desires to pursue higher education.

After election day, many immigrants were in shock and terrified for themselves and their loved ones. Yet, there were people like senator-elect Kamala Harris who pledged her support for undocumented Californians and openly supported DACA.

"This is real," she said. "We have so many children right now that are in pain, and they literally don't know [if they will have to leave]. Parents are looking at their own children and saying, 'I don't know.' We need to answer that question for them sooner rather than later," she said.

DACA, otherwise known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has been providing some students with the privilege of a work permit to pay for college with the benefits of a social security number as well as protection from deportation for a period of two years. With the fear of DACA being taken away under a Trump presidency, many are worried about what the future may hold without that form of protection. With that fear in mind, the UCs, CSUs and CCCs (Universities of California, California State Universities and California Community Colleges) have sent a letter to the president-elect and released principles supporting UC community members on behalf of the UC Office of the President in hopes of preserving the few benefits that these students are allowed. 

Janet Napolitano, president of the UCs and former secretary of homeland security, has been working with her team to try and work out strategies in anticipation of any backlash towards the undocumented community. More importantly, she sheds light on the necessity to protect young DREAMers who have benefitted from DACA in her article published in the New York Times.

“...the program is not the same as amnesty. Each case is assessed on its own merits to ensure the applicant meets the criteria and poses no security threat. This is similar, but not identical, to how a prosecutor decides to charge a case. The program does not grant categorical relief to an entire group."

Where there are supporters, there are opposers such as Texas governor, Greg Abott, who threatened to cut funding to universities who declared themselves as sanctuary campuses.

The fear that anti-immigrant sentiment will set back any progress that has been made with immigration policy is stressful for many immigrants, especially now that Trump is the president-elect. Even so, there still are and will always be people who support them and their basic human rights to education and to inherit the American Dream, which is more universal than American. Hence, the rise of sanctuary campuses- twenty-eight to be exact.

"Today, there are nearly three-quarters of a million Dreamers who no longer have to constantly fear an encounter with an immigration enforcement agent [because of DACA]. Instead, they can live, study and work freely," Napolitano said.

Much is in the air about what actions will be taken under a Trump presidency in terms of immigration. Because of this, not many preventive measures can be taken in anticipation for the worst-case scenario because we don’t know what the future holds or how much worse things can get. However, the stamina and strength from this community definitely should not be undermined. If anything, America’s immigration policies will be put to the test. 

Lead Image Credit: @temasls via Twitter

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Johana Guerra-Martinez - University of California, Los Angeles

Johana is a UCLA Bruin and International Baccalaureate Full Diploma Graduate. Raised in San Bernardino, she enjoys public speaking, puppies, and is a first-year majoring in Political Science. She is also Mexican, trilingual, and always hopeful for more.

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