UC’s chief immigration legal expert urges DACA beneficiaries to stay calm

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Attorney Amy Frances Barnett, left, advises a UC Davis student at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center at UC Davis. (Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

Attorney Amy Frances Barnett, left, advises a UC Davis student at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center at UC Davis. (Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

The University of California’s chief immigration legal expert urged students who have received government reprieves from deportation to stay calm in the face of President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he plans to phase out DACA protections.

Maria Blanco, who heads the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center, said a major lobbying campaign will try to push Congress to extend the protections to nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally or fell out of legal status. Under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, deportation proceedings have been suspended against young immigrants brought to the country before age 16 who stayed in school and out of trouble. The young people also have been allowed to obtain work permits.

“We have a very good shot at legislation in Congress and making that happen right away,” Blanco said. “Students shouldn’t do anything like quit school or their jobs.

“If you have DACA rights now, you still have them today. That’s the most important thing,” she said.

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security confirmed Tuesday that students with DACA status would continue to be protected until their two-year terms expire. Pending applications for DACA and work permits will be processed but new requests submitted after Tuesday will be rejected, the DHS memo said.

UC President Janet Napolitano, who crafted the DACA policy as Homeland Security secretary under the Obama administration, blasted Trump’s decisions. UC campus chancellors also weighed in:

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block:

“UCLA stands in solidarity with all of our students, especially our undocumented students, for whom the federal government’s action will be met with fear and uncertainty. This is indeed a sad day for our nation, but also a day for us to recommit ourselves to our Bruin Community’s core values of equity, diversity and inclusion.”

In a message to the campus community, Block said UCLA would continue to provide such services as information and campus support services, including legal and counseling services.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ:

“We are heartbroken for our undocumented immigrant communities. These communities include many of our students and families, who made the difficult decision to migrate here in pursuit of economic and educational opportunity; or to escape poverty, persecution, human rights violation or armed conflict. This is a devastating step backward and a measure that undermines the spirit of our highest values as a university and as a nation.”

She urged the Berkeley community to get involved in helping protect the students and provided information about the campus Undocumented Student Program.

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland:

“The decision to end DACA is a cruel bait-and-switch for the many young adults who are living, learning and working here under its protections. Congress must now step up and pass legislation that will allow Dreamers to remain in this country to pursue the opportunities they have earned.

“UC Merced is a leader in supporting and educating undocumented students, including the nearly 600 that currently call our campus home. These are hardworking, law-abiding, taxpaying young people who enrich our campus and community. Now is the time for action to ensure that these students will continue to receive the transformational educational experiences that they so richly deserve.”

UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman:

“I am profoundly disappointed in this administration’s action and want to reassure the entire UCI community that we will continue to stand by all of our students, regardless of background, to help them attain their higher education goals.

“UCI is home to a diverse group of individuals who share the common belief that education has the power to improve and transform lives and who are committed to making the world a better place. All members of the Anteater family – including faculty, staff and students – have a right to engage in their activities at UCI without fear or intimidation, and we will do all that we can to protect and uphold this conviction.”

Information on services and support for UCI immigrant students can be found here.

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla:

“Today’s decision by the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is distressing. At UC San Diego, our DACA students are pursuing their education in some of the most challenging degree programs, conducting research, performing community service and enhancing our campus community.

“At UC San Diego, we are committed to the academic success of all of our students, including DACA students, and remaining an accessible university for higher education. The University of California and UC San Diego offer resources to those impacted by this policy decision, including UC San Diego’s Undocumented Student Services Center.

UC Davis Chancellor Gary May:

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal:

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