UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ issues statement addressing undocumented students

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ affirmed the campus’s support for undocumented students and staff members in a June 26 statement sent to the campus community by email.

The statement came after a Twitter user warned that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appeared to have arrived at Berkeley City College on June 24, sparking more than 2,000 retweets. Berkeley City College later confirmed on Twitter that it had been visited by a Department of Homeland Security investigator.

“We remain steadfast in welcoming, supporting, and building community with our undocumented students and staff,” Christ said in her emailed statement, adding that officials have historically not conducted raids on college and university campuses.

The statement also directed community members to the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program. The program offers academic counseling, legal support, financial aid resources and referrals in order to “support the advancement of undocumented students within higher education and promote pathways for engaged scholarship,” according to the program’s website.

Christ acknowledged in her statement that reports of possible raids by immigration officials could cause heightened anxiety — a statement supported by a recent study led by UC Berkeley researchers.

Published online the day the Homeland Security official visited Berkeley City College, the study found that worries about immigration policy and rhetoric were associated with higher anxiety, poorer sleep quality and changes in blood pressure among Latinx youths in California’s Salinas Valley. Brenda Eskenazi, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the lead and corresponding author of the study, said in an email that her study was influenced by the current political climate.

“We have been following this primarily Mexican American cohort for nearly 20 years but when the anti-immigration rhetoric began we decided to include a questionnaire in the study to address this,” Eskenazi said in the email. “We started the 16 year old assessment wave in the month after the election.”

The study focused on 397 Latinx teenagers born in the United States. Eskenazi said in an email that she does not yet know the long-term consequences for the youths in the study, but she said some possible effects of chronic stress are cardiovascular and other health consequences, impacts on employability and the ability to complete schooling, and higher use of drugs and alcohol.

UC Berkeley University Health Services states on its website that the campus Tang Center aims to serve all students, regardless of legal status. The center offers medical care, laboratory tests and mental health counseling, among other services.

Contact Nick Furgatch at [email protected].