In line with numerous campus efforts to promote inclusivity in wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, UC Berkeley and other UC campuses joined colleges across the country in signing a statement supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
DACA is an immigration policy implemented by President Barack Obama through an executive order in 2012 that aims to protect eligible youth from deportation who first entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday among other guidelines. As of Tuesday, more than 200 college leaders across the country signed a statement in support of the DACA, which President-elect Trump opposes.
“UC Berkeley firmly supports DACA, its beneficiaries and all of our undocumented students. We are doing everything in our power to provide our undocumented students with the services and support they need,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in an email. “Diversity is central to our mission, and we are committed to maintaining a campus culture where every member of the community feels safe, welcome, and respected.”
DACA beneficiaries are entitled to a work permit, a social security number and have the freedom to return back to the United States in certain circumstances.
The policy can have significant fiscal impacts for eligible students because it classifies them as California residents for purposes such as admission and financial aid, opening eligibility for grants, work-study and scholarships, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
“Without DACA, a Berkeley education would be out of reach for many,” Mogulof said in an email.
Apart from chancellors at other UC schools such as Irvine, San Diego, Davis and Los Angeles, signatories include Ivy League colleges like Yale and Harvard.
Juan A. Prieto, an undocumented campus senior, said he was grateful for DACA because it eased his anxiety over possible deportation.
“I think now that DACA is being threatened it’s like some folks are sort of being reminded that we are undocumented again,” Prieto said. “It gave a lot of student’s opportunities … but I think the flaw in it was that we did not use those opportunities to uplift all of our community.”
According to Prerna Lal, an immigration attorney at the Undocumented Student Program on campus, DACA has been a vital resource for undocumented students to participate in campus life and graduate on time.
“Ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. GDP cumulatively over 10 years,” Lal said in an email.
In light of uncertainty regarding the new government’s immigration policies, UC President Janet Napolitano has convened a task force to strategize policies to protect undocumented students. Additionally, UC officials have been in talks with undocumented students about establishing sanctuary status for the university.
“The campus also looks forward to working with President Napolitano’s task force that will be strategizing on how, in the future, to best protect undocumented students across the UC system,” Dirks said in an email.