The UC system appeared before the U.S Supreme Court on Tuesday as it defended the rights of nearly 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients to stay in the United States.
The UC system has alleged that the Trump administration acted unlawfully when it announced the rescinding of DACA. DACA has enabled thousands of undocumented students who grew up in the United States to remain in the country without fear of deportation, according to a UC system press release. UC President Janet Napolitano has begun to push back and challenge the Trump administration’s nullification of the program.
Napolitano established the DACA program while she worked under the Obama administration as former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. She now stands at the forefront of a system that harbors about 1,700 students who rely on DACA protections.
“These are young people that have done all that have been asked of them. They have earned admission into the University of California. … To remove their DACA protection in the way that the Trump administration has attempted to do … is not only legally illegitimate but it is inconsistent with good immigration policy and inconsistent with our values as a country,” Napolitano said.
While previous UC Berkeley DACA recipients are eligible to renew their status, new recipients are unable to apply due to a pause on new DACA applications, according to Liliana Iglesias, director of the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program.
Iglesias added that the status of DACA students still remains ambiguous as many have fallen under duress due to eligibility and application difficulties.
“Some students feel torn–they want DACA to continue and they also want comprehensive immigration reform to happen–something that will also protect their parents and family members from deportation and that will give undocumented people a path to citizenship. It’s not enough to protect the students–what about their families?” Iglesias said in an email.
UC Office of the President spokesperson Stett Holbrook added that the UC system is committed to “providing resources” and “creating a supportive environment” for all undocumented students and faculty. He said this includes resources such as the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center, which “provides free legal services to our students.”
The UC system is set to receive pro bono representation by the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, according to Holbrook.
Tuesday’s trial reinforced both the legal legitimacy of the DACA program and the ethical rights of Americans, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
“What came forward in this argument today is that the federal government did it the wrong way in trying to determine DACA and that their actions should not stand and that the DACA program should continue,” Becerra said. “We’re very proud to have student court alumni with President Napolitano and the UC system and so many other colleagues throughout the nation along with the DACA Dreamers and we will continue forward.”
A decision is expected to be made sometime between February and June 2020, according to a campuswide email from Chancellor Carol Christ.