By Ashley Duong
With the recent presidential administration’s announcement of plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in just under six months, students across the country who are protected under DACA are anticipating how the potential end of the program will affect them come March 6, 2018.
In response to the announcement, UC President Janet Napolitano issued a statement denouncing the president’s actions, stating that she was, “deeply troubled by President Trump’s decision to effectively end the DACA program and uproot the lives of an estimated 800,000 Dreamers across the nation.”
“This backward-thinking, far-reaching move threatens to separate families and derail the futures of some of this country’s brightest young minds, thousands of whom currently attend or have graduated from the University of California,” Napolitano said. “The University and the state of California stand together in our belief that students should be admitted to UC and other institutions of higher education based on their records of achievement and without regard to their immigration status.”
The show of support and solidarity from the UC president has been encouraging for both students and those working on campus to help undocumented students. Oscar Teran, the director of UCI’s DREAM Center, said Napolitano’s statement was validating and that “even amidst scary times, it’s nice to know the university has our back.”
“Moving forward we want students to know about all the resources available to them, helping them to file renewal before the Oct. 5 deadline and to give students a sense of community and unity on campus,” he said.
Still, the news has weighed heavily on UCI’s campus. Teran explains that the announcement has made a “significant impact” that his office has to deal with. One DACA student at UCI, who wished to remain anonymous, described her initial reaction to the news of President Trump’s plans as “appalled and confused.” She went on to say that while she “had premonitions of Trump choosing to impede on the lives of DACA students, [she] never thought he would actually do so,” explaining that she “always thought of it as a major bluff due to the actual consequences that would ensue.”
Napolitano’s statement has been encouraging to the student as someone protected under DACA.
“I definitely appreciated Napolitano’s efforts to assert protection and legal action towards the DACA program. I am glad the school is also raising more awareness,” she said. “At this point, I really do believe that the institution is doing it’s best to protect DACA students. I feel safe on campus and the University has given me the same opportunities as other students regardless of the political climate. With this situation in particular, the University has become a sanctuary in accordance to demand and has also been offering legal services for DACA students. I truly believe that the actions taken so far are in our best interest and have definitely been helpful.”
While Congressional action as well as several lawsuits filed in objection to the end of the program, including one filed by Napolitano, have stalled the administration’s abolition of the program, the possibility of DACA’s complete disappearance will mean undocumented students will no longer have “protection from deportation, the lawful ability to work, or the opportunity to travel internationally,” Teran said.
“We were really disappointed at the announcement because we know it negatively impacts students on campus… Many students were fearful, confused and anxious over their future,” Teran said.
UCI’s DREAM Center, a resource center on campus focused on providing services to undocumented students, is working to provide as much support to students as possible.
“Our mission is to help students achieve personal, academic and professional success, regardless of documentation,” said Teran.“We have a lot of workshops and programs…and a staff attorney to help represent students and their relatives in anything related to immigration. We also have a seminar course called Student Success initiatives to help students successfully transition into college.”
Another DACA student who wished to remain anonymous called the Dreamers Resource Center “the best resource on campus” for undocumented students.
“So far, I feel as though they have been the only resource center providing events exclusively to help those in need of guidance and legal assistance,” she said.
Teran said that the Center will be open to counsel and advise students this week, leading up to the Oct. 5 filing deadline on Thursday.
“The most important thing we want students to know is that we are here and our entire mission is to help them and support them,” he said. “If they are impacted in any way and feel they need help, they can always come to us.”