UC Berkeley to allocate $800K for undocumented students’ needs, pending UCOP approval

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ has promised to establish a new space on campus for undocumented students by early March.

Christ made these promises Tuesday when she met with Luis Mora — a campus junior transfer who was detained by Border Patrol and held in custody for 2 1/2 weeks by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — to discuss efforts to address current concerns in undocumented student communities. Plans include the establishment of an undocumented student resource center as well as the allocation of $800,000 for the DACA Financial Gap, an initiative to cover financial needs of undocumented students under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The resources available to undocumented students on campus have been in the spotlight since Mora’s detainment, when campus immigration attorney Prerna Lal stated that they didn’t have an office on campus or rooms to meet with students.

“I could have talked to (Lal) about my situation and my family. … (Lal) would have told me about my situation and what I could have done. … I wouldn’t have been detained,” Mora said, reflecting on the lack of campus space for Lal. “Such spaces are crucial.”

Mora said he was particularly impressed by the initiative to allocate public space by next month. The campus’s “Undocuaction Plan” puts forward a timeline detailing the creation of an undocumented student resource center. The plan states that Undocumented Students Program Director Meng So will have a space in the César E. Chávez Student Center by early March.

Future plans involve repurposing campus buildings to accommodate a permanent community space. Mora says this space will go a long way toward properly representing the student population, as campus staff currently struggle resource-wise to aid their students because of a lack of space.

Another one of the university’s objectives is to construct a “sustainable financial strategy,” which will address the financial needs of undocumented students losing their DACA status. The current plan proposes an $800,000 allocation for one semester of the 2018-19 academic year.

Should the proposal receive approval from the UC Office of the President, $2,500 in basic needs grants will be set aside for students whose DACA status has expired. An additional $1,500 will go toward basic needs grants for all other students, and $50,000 will be set aside as a discretionary grant for “special cases.”

While Mora said a better way to support the students would be through creating on-campus opportunities for them to work, he acknowledged the program as generous and the best possible solution given legal restraints. Mora also expressed his gratitude toward the current administration and UC Berkeley community for properly representing the undocumented community at Berkeley.

“I really think it’s a very generous program, but there are other ways that it could be improved to be more fair for everyone,” Mora said. “Nothing can be achieved at once. … The little impacts, the little victories are going to eventually take us to the path that we all want to be on.”

Contact Elena Aguirre at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @eaguirreDC.

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  • roccolore

    No money from American students, plenty for illegals who hate America.

  • Art Coses

    It’s one thing if donations are being used to fund this, but quite another if it’s taxpayer money. Additionally, if the initiative supports illegal aliens who are not covered by DACA, it may be in direct violation of 8 U.S. Code § 1324. Also problematic is the unequal treatment of diverse classes of individuals, since the program is inherently discriminatory.

  • Noah F.

    Try explaining this story to any friend or acquaintance from another country.

    “Of course–you should set aside money for students.”

    “Oh, wait, they aren’t citizens?”

    “Wait, then how are they there? How did they get into the country… or the school?”

    “But… wait, how did the parents get there?”

    “What?! But how did they support their kids without a job?”

    “…How did they have jobs?”

    “How can you let anyone in the world come into your highly developed country illegally, compete with your citizen workforce, and let them and their families benefit from infrastructure paid for by the middle class citizen tax base?”

    Short answer: cheap illegal immigrant labor is the special sauce that suppresses middle and lower class wages to the benefit of the capitalist class, the only people whose interests matter in the United States. The remaining hornet’s nest of identify politics around illegal immigration (on both sides) are conveniently set up to prevent any reasonable debate on the issue.

  • mogden

    Let’s spend the 800k to round up and deport illegal aliens at Berkeley, in order to make room for more legal Californians and Americans to attend. I don’t understand at all why taxpayer money is spent to keep illegals occupying spots in this very competitive university.

    • California Defender

      I think the reason is that Berkeley is becoming less competitive. Their ranking is dropping as the rigor of instruction decreases and high-profile scandals increase. So it becomes increasingly harder find a job with a UCB degree and repay their enormous school debt.

      So they need to fill the seats and claim state and federal dollars somehow. Putting illegal aliens in those seats is an easy way. Of course their marketing of anti-Americanism and leftist echo-chamber environment also attracts a certain crowd in search of a bubble where their ideology will not be challenged and exposure to new ideas will be limited.

  • what a waste of tuition and taxpayer dollars

  • jeyhovah

    I am in total agreement that the illegals have a permanent space on campus. It will make it that much easier for ICE to find them. Also: in my 9 years of education (4 undergrad, 5 grad) at UCs, I never received a single “free” dollar from the UC system. All financial aid was in loans all because I’m not a minority. So even though my parents couldn’t afford to pay anything either, my only option was to take out loans. I worked a job all 9 years in school. And now we are ever more concerned with illegals than citizens that there’s still no grant money for people like me, but we are setting aside grants for illegals? ffs

  • Grandpa Dino

    Free (grant) money for illegals? Tax-paying citizens must be so happy.

    • Art Coses

      If a student is here illegally, no money should be given to him/her. Even if protected by DACA, it’s unjustifiable if tax payer money is being used to fund this effort, especially in light of the prevalence of impoverished US citizens’ in CA. Charity *should* begin at home; directing it elsewhere, in view of this prevalent poverty, is a blatant abrogation of responsibility. This isn’t a false dilemma, but a call to serve US citizens–and others who are here legally–first.