The University of California filed a federal lawsuit today against the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides around 800,000 undocumented residents who immigrated as children with the ability to legally live and work in the United States.
The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco against the Department of Homeland Security and the DHS’s Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, argues that rescinding DACA is “unconstitutional, unjust, and unlawful.” It was filed on behalf of the University of California by UC President Janet Napolitano, as well as on the behalf of all students currently enrolled in the university system.
“Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led,” Napolitano said in a press release. “It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community.” Napolitano, who served as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013, established the DACA program in 2012 under the Obama administration.
The UC system has an estimated 4,000 undocumented students. Although UCSD does not keep a standing record of the status of undocumented students, an estimated 270 received financial aid during the 2016-17 school year through AB 540 and the California Dream Act.
Two days ago, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez issued a message of support to undocumented students at UCSD, reaffirming that federal regulations around DACA will not change California’s in-state tuition allocation. However, Gonzalez noted that expiring employment authorization documents related to DACA could impact work-study allocations and Teaching Assistantships.
In December 2016, the UC committed to protecting undocumented students. It listed various measures it would take, including preventing campus police from enforcing federal immigration law, not considering DACA status in admissions, and affirming that it would not release student records unless required by law.
“They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers,” said Napolitano. “To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA program, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.”