University of California Stops Plan to Hire Undocumented Students

University of California officials backed down on Thursday from a plan to let people without legal immigration status to work on campus after considering the legal implications of an attempt that attracted criticism from the Biden administration.

The governing UC Regents emerged from a closed-door meeting and opted to put the idea on hold for at least one year.

“We concluded that the proposed legal pathway is not viable at this time, and in fact carries significant risks for the institution and for those we serve,” Michael Drake, president of the University of California, Berkeley, said. “For that reason, it is inadvisable for the university to initiate implementation right now.”

The judgment prevents almost 4,000 undocumented students across the ten-school system from holding campus jobs, including paid fellowships and residencies that some require to graduate or pursue additional studies.

Drake stated that the institution would explore for additional ways to support students, such as increased “experiential learning” options.

The students, who already attend UC as in-state residents, are among thousands of young people brought into the nation as children who are no longer able to work legally due to legal challenges that have barred new applicants to the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In recent months, the president, some regents, and other officials have grown increasingly skeptical that the institution can hire the students without risking a lawsuit. Legal views and private communications from the Department of Homeland Security caused concerns among UC officials, according to POLITICO.

Activists and legal scholars claimed that hiring the students would not violate federal law. They claimed that a congressional ban on such employment in the 1978 Immigration Reform and Control Act did not apply to the states.

In May, the regents stated that they planned to hire the students by the end of November. When the self-imposed deadline expired, Drake stated that the university required extra time to research “numerous” legal issues.

UC Regent John Pérez, an outspoken supporter of the plan, said he had never been more disappointed by a decision to delay.

“Quite frankly, I wish I was more surprised,” Pérez said.

The governing board cleared their meeting room of chanting demonstrators on Thursday, which included students protesting Israel’s war with Hamas as well as those demanding for the hiring of undocumented students.

“Deport me? No way! “Undocumented and here to stay!” some students screamed during the regents’ discussion.

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