The UC System Takes the Fight For DACA to the Supreme Court as Students Protest For Broader Action


Xelestial Moreno-Luz / The Triton

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University of California (UC) lawyers appeared before the Supreme Court last Tuesday, November 12, to argue that the Trump administration unlawfully revoked the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA protects nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants from deportations, allowing them to work and study in the United States. This includes nearly 1,700 UC students. According to UC San Diego statistics, approximately 363 undocumented students enrolled at UCSD in the 2017–18 academic year, 77% of whom were transfer students.

Due to this lawsuit and the subsequent injunctions filed over the last two years, over 500,000 people eligible for DACA were able to remain working and living in the United States.

In 2017, when this lawsuit was originally filed, the UC system was the first school to challenge the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. UC President Janet Napolitano has strong ties to the program, having helped create it while serving as Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama.

 “America is a beacon of justice and opportunity and today we stood up for the young immigrants who seek both,” said Napolitano at the steps of the Supreme Court last Tuesday.

In response to the UC system’s DACA lawsuit, UCSD Media major and second year transfer student Xelestial Moreno-Luz organized the on-campus rally “Rise for Undocumented People.” The rally was a grassroots effort to highlight the undocumented communities not represented by DACA and critique the university’s associations with the military.

“It was really more about critiquing the university’s complicity in the prison-industrial complex,” Moreno-Luz told The Triton. “It was about critiquing the university’s investment in the military-industrial complex and how [the UC system] should see undocumented peoples beyond DACA.”

Students held banners reading “Protect Undocumented Lives” and “Defund the Military! Abolish ICE!” on Library Walk, advocating for the UC system to increase support to undocumented students and cut investments in the military.

While organizing the rally, Moreno-Luz enlisted the help of her friends and consulted undocumented students under the belief that, as a student who is not undocumented, it would not be right for her to solely spearhead a movement supporting undocumented students.

“[Tuesday’s rally] was out of urgency, because nobody was protesting. Nobody was making an action. Nobody was doing a statement in regards to the DACA being taken to the Supreme Court,” said Moreno-Luz. “I wanted to be a part of creating a space where all undocumented people are uplifted.”

Meanwhile, during the lead-up to arguments in the Supreme Court, the UC ran a campaign highlighting undocumented students’ stories and gathering signatures in support of the lawsuit.

UCSD Communications Officer, Erika Johnson, told The Triton that UCSD is proud to stand with its DACA students and will continue to support its undocumented and immigrant community.

“Everyone paying attention to the arguments in the Supreme Court got to see the university standing up not only for our DACA students, but also for the overriding principles of fair play and justice under the law,” said John A. Perez, chair of the UC Board of Regents and speaker emeritus of the California Assembly.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the case by June 2020.

Editor’s Note: Xelestial Moreno-Luz is a staff photographer for The Triton.

Sahana Narayan is a Staff Writer for The Triton. You can follow her @saharadesert00.