The ASUC Senate passed a deeply flawed bill Wednesday night that gives incoming UC president Janet Napolitano an unfairly limited amount of time to take important steps toward reassuring undocumented students of her ability to fight for their rights.
Napolitano’s troubling record on immigration and the rights of undocumented people is the basis of the bill sponsored by CalSERVE Senator Sean Tan. The bill lays out a list of demands for Napolitano to meet before the third week of October, or else the senate will express no confidence in her as president of the UC system.
In her role as the governor of Arizona and the head of the federal Department of Homeland Security, it is undeniable and deeply troubling that Napolitano played a key role in the deportations of thousands of undocumented immigrants and their families.
The department’s Secure Communities program, which claims to actively seek out serious criminal offenders for deportation among undocumented immigrants, has come under fire for misleading the public about whom it targets. This is a trouble spot on Napolitano’s record that she needs to explain. The rights of undocumented Americans must not be ignored.
However, the ASUC Senate’s bill will not force a productive solution. With a timetable of just over a month, what should be necessary systemic changes that include the UC Office of the President and the UC community will be either rushed and half-met, or ignored completely. A few weeks is not a sufficient amount of time for changes of the scope and breadth necessary to accommodate the senate’s demands. To establish “mandatory annual UCPD trainings” or to create a staff education protocol on undocumented citizens’ rights, as the bill demands Napolitano does, requires time and careful deliberation.
Napolitano has a lot to offer UC students: She has managed massive state bureaucracies successfully, and her experience as a Democratic governor in a Republican-dominated state shows her ability to work with a difficult legislature such as California’s, even with its Democratic supermajority. And a campus such as our own, with both its rich history of student activism and its demonstrated commitment to the cause of undocumented students, would naturally be predisposed toward feeling skeptical of an official responsible for thousands of deportations. Napolitano must answer questions about her record.
But such a short timetable sends the message that the point of the bill is to express no confidence in Napolitano before she can prove her commitment to the students of the University of California — undocumented or otherwise.