University releases principles in support of UC community members

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Rachael Garner/File

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The University of California announced principles in support of UC community members Wednesday, stating that it will continue to admit and support students regardless of race, religion, national origin and citizenship.

The principles referenced existing federal student privacy law that would allow the UC system to continue to protect the information of undocumented students, in spite of a potential federal effort to register them. The university will not release immigration status contained in confidential student records to federal agencies or other parties unless required by a judicial warrant, a subpoena, a court order or a similar law.

“The goal of these principles is to make sure the UC system remains a welcoming and safe place where all students, regardless of immigration status, can enroll and graduate,” said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an email.

Cuahuctemoc Salinas, an undocumented UC Berkeley alumnus and former ASUC senator, expressed concern that the statement did not address the lack of resources for undocumented students once enrolled.

“One of the lines that really popped out to me was the emphasis on UC matriculation and graduation,” Salinas said. “(It) rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of UC schools don’t have the resources.”

According to the principles, the university will direct its police departments not to contribute to any government agency efforts to enforce federal immigration law, stating that the resources of the UCPD are devoted to ensuring “a safe and secure environment.”

UCPD was not involved in the development of the principles but is working to make sure their policies align, according to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich.

The statement was released after UC President Janet Napolitano met with university staff from all ten campuses who support undocumented students. On the same day, the New York Times published an op-ed by Napolitano in support of maintaining President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program allows for individuals who illegally immigrated to the United States as children to apply for “deferred action,” giving them protection from deportation and a work permit for two years with the option to renew.

As noted by Napolitano in the op-ed, many students are able to experience and afford a UC education because of DACA. Salinas utilized the program as a student, working a total of seven jobs the previous summer with the use of his work permit.

“I exhausted DACA because that’s the first case of privilege I‘ve ever had,” Salinas said.

Salinas expressed hope that the released statement was a “good start” for the UC system in light of threats to programs like DACA.

“It doesn’t alleviate the larger picture, it doesn’t alleviate that Trump was elected, but for some peculiar reason I still feel hope,” Salinas said.

Contact Audrey McNamara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @McNamaraAud.