UC, East Bay organizations rally behind undocumented community after DACA repeal

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The University of California sent a letter to students and faculty Tuesday urging undocumented students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to renew their permits if they are set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018.

The letter, signed by UC President Janet Napolitano, encouraged students across all campuses to reach out to UC Immigrant Legal Services Center for legal counsel and to UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program for campus students specifically. The letter stated that these offices will be working together with UC campuses to provide free application renewal workshops to DACA recipients.

On Sept. 5, the Trump administration announced its decision to rescind DACA over a six-month period. Three days later, the university sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in federal court, making it the first university to file a lawsuit in opposition of President Donald Trump’s DACA repeal.

“DACA benefits UC in so many ways. These students bring enormous talent and energy into our student population,” Napolitano said in a press call Friday, after the university filed its lawsuit. On Monday, the university also announced its support of a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, which offers legal services to local immigrants and refugees, is also providing workshops on DACA renewal. UC Berkeley alumna Lily Woo, who has been involved with EBSC for two years, said helping undocumented community members get as many renewals done by the Oct. 5 deadline is paramount, but she added that the free workshops also include information sessions intended to educate the sanctuary’s undocumented clientele about what options are available to them once DACA is terminated.

The information sessions also detail what the terms of the DACA rescission are, what rights people have and how undocumented community members can deal with employers inquiring about the status of their work permits, Woo said.

Arturo Fernandez, an undocumented campus doctoral student, commended the university’s efforts to point students toward legal counsel.

“Across the nation … it is so important for people to take this opportunity,” Fernandez said. “I appreciate them putting out that statement.”

Although Fernandez himself is not eligible for DACA renewal, he said he is encouraging family, friends and those who are eligible to take advantage of resources available to them.

Fernandez also emphasized that getting the large number of people nationwide who are eligible for renewal to submit the application is a “Herculean task,” especially for those who don’t have the “ease of access” to resources that are more readily available in areas such as San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland.

“It is imperative … that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community,” Napolitano said in a press release Friday. “They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers.”

Contact Cade Johnson at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @cadejohnson98.

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