UC Takes Legal Action to Stop DACA Repeal

The University of California has issued a joint legal motion on Wednesday, Nov. 1 to sue the Trump administration and request a federal judge to keep the program running during legal proceedings.

Along with the UC, plaintiffs include the states of California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara county, the Service Employees International Union Local 521 and six DACA recipients.

“The Rescission already is causing catastrophic and irreparable harm to DACA recipients,” reads the motion, “as the threat of deportation—to countries where they have not lived since they were children—forces them to make wrenching choices whether to leave their schools, jobs, and even their U.S. citizen children and other family members.  The harm also extends to their loved ones, employers, schools, and communities.  The Rescission is unjust and unlawful, and it violates the fundamental prohibition on arbitrary agency action imposed by the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The UC has also filed about 20 declarations from students, faculty and administrators to further support their case.

UC president Janet Napolitano recognized that many of the 4,000 undocumented students currently attending UC schools are DACA recipients.

“DACA students at the University are an integral part of our community. Their talent, perspectives and experiences are invaluable contributions to University life,” said Napolitano in her declaration. “DACA recipients also make significant contributions to University life in their role as employees. They fill crucial roles at UC campuses and in UC medical centers as teaching assistants, research assistants, post-docs and health care providers. DACA recipients often possess valuable foreign language skills.”

Evelyn Valdez-Ward, a UCI doctoral student and DACA recipient, also gave a declaration about her experience with the program.

“DACA changed my life in so many positive ways. I got my driver’s license, which meant I could take our family van to school. I had more hours to focus on school and get sleep than when I was commuting by bus,” she said. “DACA also meant I could help my family by working and by providing transportation for my siblings, since I had the only driver’s license in our family.”

Valdez-Ward also fears that without DACA she will not be able to obtain her degree, something she has been working toward for years.

“I am concerned that without DACA status I will lose my Ford Foundation grant. I provided my DACA employment authorization to the Ford Fellowship to receive this funding,” she said. “Many of the other significant sources of funding in my field, like the National Science Foundation, are available only to citizens so I have few alternatives to fund my research. Without my Ford Foundation grant, I do not think I could afford to finish my doctoral degree.”

The motion also states that getting rid of the DACA program will be detrimental to the U.S. economy and public health and safety.

“The harm of taking DACA away from nearly 700,000 current DACA recipients would be a loss of $215 billion in U.S. GDP over the next ten years,” reads the motion, “and an increased uninsured population will burden emergency healthcare services and reduce overall public health as people become reluctant to seek medical care due to lack of insurance or fear of being reported to immigration authorities.”

The plaintiffs will argue their case for Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco on the morning of Dec. 20.