We Will Not Waver: California Community Colleges Reiterate Support for Undocumented Students Amid Federal Appeals Court Ruling on DACA Program

Sixth Annual Undocumented Student Action Week on Oct. 17-21 aims to dismantle barriers that hinder student success

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office is reaffirming its commitment to undocumented students in light of a recent federal appeals court decision which said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy violates U.S. immigration law and bars new applications for DACA benefits by undocumented students. The decision stokes fears and puts a program in jeopardy that provides deportation protection and work permits to thousands of Californians who lack legal status, including many community college students.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office remains focused on creating an ecosystem where all students feel welcome and supported on campus. As part of this commitment, the system will host Undocumented Student Action Week from Oct. 17 through Oct. 21 as an opportunity to foster support for undocumented students and connect them with resources through campus events, daily systemwide webinars and federal advocacy meetings.

“The court decision on DACA does not change our mission to welcome and serve all students. This is what we have always done, and we will not waver. Undocumented students can continue to rely on California’s 116 community colleges for support and know that they are safe on our campuses,” said California Community Colleges Interim Chancellor Dr. Daisy Gonzales, PhD. “We encourage undocumented and DACA students to enroll and stay enrolled in our colleges. Our system offers several opportunities to make college more affordable and accessible. Undocumented students can receive financial aid and work study opportunities through programs like College Corps and the California Dream Act.”

Undocumented Student Action Week began in 2016 in response to threats made against the DACA Program. This year’s Action Week is mindful of the rising uncertainty surrounding DACA once more due to the controversial July 2021 Texas v. United States ruling that held DACA is unlawful. That decision was recently upheld by a federal appeals court and sent to a lower court for further revisions to the law—leaving the pathway to citizenship for DACA and undocumented students unclear.

Since its implementation 10 years ago, DACA has protected thousands of undocumented students in California and hundreds of thousands across the United States from deportation as they pursue their college degrees. DACA recipients make positive contributions to California communities and serve in a host of critical professions such as first responders, medical professionals, educators, scientists, and more.

Just this year, California lawmakers advanced critical legislation introduced by former Assemblymember Firebaugh to expand AB 540 which opened the doors of higher education for undocumented students by allowing them to qualify for in-state tuition. The recent passage of SB 1141 by Senator Limón eliminates the two-year cap on credit courses that can be counted toward achieving AB 540 status. These initiatives will save undocumented students time and money in their pursuit of a college degree.

Undocumented Student Action Week mobilizes faculty, staff, students, administrators and policymakers to support the needs of undocumented students enrolled at all 116 California community colleges through outreach, professional development and campus events. This weeklong initiative is a joint effort led by the Board of Governors, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the Foundation for California Community Colleges, and the Community College League of California, in partnership with many statewide advocacy organizations.

This year’s theme, “Juntos Podemos (Together, We Can): Collaborative Ecosystems that Support Undocumented Students, recognizes that we must continue to advance best practices, ensure authentic, campuswide collaboration and advocate for policy solutions to support long-term success.

“Undocumented students and their families count on us to provide a high-quality education. It is our collective responsibility to ensure they have equitable access to the information and services they need to be successful, and to feel safe in their learning environment—not just during Undocumented Student Action Week, but every day of the year,” said Dr. Gonzales. “We must ensure policies and practices, including our diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility initiatives, also meet the unique needs of our undocumented students.”

As of Nov. 1, there will be an UndocuLiaison at every California community college campus. UndocuLiaisons are dedicated to helping undocumented students get the legal and support services they need to succeed. Additionally, many of the colleges also have Undocumented Student Resource Centers, which provide a safe community and a judgement free place that makes it easier for undocumented students to focus on their classes and get help with support services. Students can get directly connected to an UndocuLiaison or an Undocumented Resource Center on their local college campus by visiting ICanGoToCollege.com

California community college DACA students, faculty and staff are encouraged to make a free appointment now with a legal services provider to renew their DACA application. Legal services are available to undocumented students through a newly launched online tool, FindYourAlly.com.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 1.8 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; and degree and certificate pathways. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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