California’s public university systems are drawing a line in the sand with President-elect Donald Trump over his policies on illegal immigration, vowing not to cooperate with law enforcement officials who may seek to deport undocumented students on their campuses.
University of California President Janet Napolitano on Wednesday released “principles in support of undocumented members of the UC community” that stated campus police departments would not assist federal or local authorities in investigating, detaining or arresting individuals for violations of immigration law.
The principles also included promises that UC would continue to admit students and treat patients at its hospitals regardless of immigration status, and that it would not participate in any efforts to create a national registry based on characteristics such as religion.
“While we still do not know what policies and practices the incoming federal administration may adopt,” Napolitano said in a statement, “given the many public pronouncements made during the presidential campaign and its aftermath, we felt it necessary to reaffirm that UC will act upon its deeply held conviction that all members of our community have the right to work, study, and live safely and without fear at all UC locations.”
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California State University Chancellor Timothy White earlier this month made a similar pronouncement that CSU would not honor immigration hold requests or enter into agreements with law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law.
“There is no ambiguity here,” he said. “We are deeply committed to fostering a campus community that is safe and welcoming for everyone.”
Napolitano’s announcement follows the release Tuesday of a joint letter with White and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the incoming chancellor of the California Community Colleges, urging Trump to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That Obama administration policy protects undocumented students who were brought to the country illegally as children from deportation and grants them work permits.
Trump criticized the program on the campaign trail and said he would reverse it. Since his election, Trump has also promised an immigration crackdown that he estimated could sweep up as many as 3 million undocumented criminals, a plan that California officials are already bracing to oppose.
Undocumented students and allies such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have publicly pressured California higher education officials in recent weeks to take protective measures, calling on the universities to declare themselves “sanctuary campuses.” Amid questions over how it could affect federal funding under Trump, none has yet gone that far.
Spokesman Paul Feist said the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office will provide guidance, but it is up to individual colleges in the sprawling and decentralized system to decide whether or not they will cooperate with immigration authorities.
Hours before releasing the new UC principles, Napolitano published an opinion piece in The New York Times defending the legal principle of DACA.
Napolitano, the former Secretary of Homeland Security who signed the directive creating the program, wrote that it “reflects the executive branch doing what it properly does every day – making decisions about how to best use resources within the framework of existing law. There is no reason to abandon these sensible priorities now.”