‘Breath of relief’: UC system celebrates DACA restoration

Photo of DACA protests
Daniel Kim/File
The UC system played a substantial role in the fight for DACA. During Trump's administration, several attempts were made to restrict the program, which has provided undocumented children with temporary work permits and protection from deportation.

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A federal judge ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program Friday — causing UC administrators and students alike to celebrate.

Since its inception in 2012, DACA has provided undocumented children with temporary work permits and protection from deportation. During the Trump administration, however, several attempts were made to restrict this program, some of which were successful. The court order would reverse any of these limitations and reinstate DACA to its original form.

“Justice has prevailed once again,” said UC President Michael Drake in a statement. “In solidarity with our students and the entire UC community, we are pleased that a federal judge today decisively ordered the federal government to fully restore the DACA program.”

The UC system, in particular, played a substantial role in the fight for DACA, according to an earlier UC Office of the President press release. In September 2017, it was the first university to sue the federal government for the rescission of the DACA program.

There are more than 500 UC Berkeley students that are undocumented, said Marissa Wu, UC Berkeley Student Immigration Relief Clinic executive director in an email. Wu added that while some students are not undocumented themselves, they may belong to mixed-status families that are also vulnerable to federal actions.

According to Joshua Yoo, UC Berkeley School of Law’s East Bay Dreamers Project co-reader, the Trump administration’s attempt to restrict DACA has caused high anxiety among DACA recipients, who remained uncertain about the status of their protection.

“The status of DACA was uncertain under the Trump administration, throwing the security of our students into peril by stopping new applications and cutting work permit lengths to 1 year,” Wu said in the email. “This new court ruling to fully restore DACA is a breath of relief for students.”

The ruling will help “fortify” DACA recipients on the UC Berkeley campus and provide a sense of security for those who are undocumented, Yoo added.

Yoo noted, however, the restoration of DACA is only the first step.

“The ideal situation would be for the students to be able to pursue more permanent legal status,” Yoo said. “At least for now, the restoration of the DACA program is going to be really important to our community.”

Wu added that immigrants are essential to UC Berkeley.

As a public university in the state of California, UC Berkeley has a responsibility to be inclusive of all populations, Wu noted.

“UC Berkeley would not be the renowned university it is today without immigrants,” Wu said in the email. “So many of our students, staff, and faculty are either immigrants themselves or come from immigrant families, and bring crucial perspectives that ultimately help create a diverse, inclusive community.”

Contact Kelly Suth at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @kellyannesuth.