UC asks federal judge to uphold DACA during pending lawsuit against Trump administration

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Daniel Kim/File

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The University of California asked a federal judge Wednesday to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program operational while its lawsuit against the Trump administration is still pending.

In September, the UC, along with other individuals and organizations, sued the Trump administration for its repeal of the DACA program. The UC system and these other parties filed an additional complaint Wednesday to halt the dismantling of DACA until a final court ruling on the original lawsuit.

The joint motion alleges that “the federal government violated federal procedures, failed to justify its decision and did not undergo the proper notice-and-comment process required to rescind DACA,” according to the UC press release.

Many organizations — including academic institutions, local governments, technology companies and civil rights organizations — have filed briefs that make “strong, multi-faceted challenges” to the rescission of DACA, according to the UC press release. In order to support the cause, the university filed declarations from students and faculty across the UC system.

In her statement in the complaint, UC President Janet Napolitano said DACA opens doors for many undocumented individuals because it allows recipients to obtain work authorization. She emphasized that DACA students play an important role in the UC community, and that the program’s recession would result in the university losing these vital contributions.

“DACA students at the University are an integral part of our community,” Napolitano said in her statement. “Their talents, perspectives, and experiences are invaluable contributions to University life.”

Dellara Gorjian, a DACA recipient and first-year law student at UCLA, said in a statement filed with the suit that the work authorization provided by DACA allowed her to support herself through college. Dellara added that she plans to work in the United States after she gets her law degree.

“My first years after receiving DACA status were a transformative time for me. … My grades were excellent,” Gorjian said in her statement. “I learned what could happen if I applied myself academically.”

Gorjian said the expiration of DACA would make it impossible for her to work for a law firm in the country and would lead to her being $90,000 in private debt.

DACA recipient and UC Berkeley junior Selena Pérez said the biggest benefit of the program initially was being barred from deportation. She also said, however, that DACA is the reason she was able to get a job. According to Pérez, because of DACA, she is able to pay taxes, something she takes great pride in.

Pérez said she would like to see the preservation of DACA, emphasizing that she is happy that the UC system is fighting to keep DACA running.

“I am really happy to be in a university that cares this much,” Pérez said. “We should be fighting to protect DACA, but also to expand it.”

Contact Rishabh Nijhawan at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @realRishNij.