Capitol Alert

California colleges urge Trump to grant reprieve for undocumented students

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during an election night rally on Nov. 9 in New York.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during an election night rally on Nov. 9 in New York. The Associated Press

California’s public colleges and universities are joining national calls to preserve the Obama administration policy protecting from deportation the undocumented young people brought illegally to the United States as children.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Donald Trump, the leaders of the state’s three systems of higher education jointly urged the president-elect not to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as he promised to do on the campaign trail.

“These sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants are as American as any other child across the nation, in all but in the letter of the law,” stated the letter signed by University of California President Janet Napolitano, California State University Chancellor Timothy White, and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the incoming chancellor of California Community Colleges. “They should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported, or rounded up for just trying to learn.”

More than 700,000 applicants have been granted waivers since DACA was introduced in 2012, the largest portion of them from California. The higher education systems do not track immigration status, but they point to a financial aid program exempting noncitizen residents from out-of-state tuition fees for estimates of undocumented students attending their schools: about 3,700 at UC campuses, 10,000 in the CSU and 61,000 at community colleges last year.

Since Trump’s election Nov. 8, undocumented students and allies such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have publicly pushed the systems to declare themselves “sanctuary campuses.” While none has gone that far yet, White affirmed earlier this month that CSU police would not cooperate with federal immigration authorities or honor any immigration hold requests. Napolitano announced a task force to examine how UC could support its undocumented students.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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