Los Angeles Times

UC vows to shield migrant students

University system says it won’t aid U.S. immigratio­n agents.

- By Teresa Watanabe

The University of California announced sweeping actions Wednesday to protect its students who came into the country illegally, saying it would refuse to assist federal immigratio­n agents, turn over confidenti­al records without court orders or supply informatio­n for any national registry based on race, national origin or religion.

“While we still do not know what policies and practices the incoming federal administra­tion may adopt, 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,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

Napolitano said the university would “vigorously protect the privacy and civil rights of the undocument­ed

members of the UC community.”

The policies, described as a statement of principles, mark the first unified approach toward federal immigratio­n issues for the system’s 10 campuses, according to UC spokeswoma­n Dianne Klein.

Napolitano formed a task force to examine possible actions shortly after the presidenti­al election of Donald Trump stirred widespread unease and uncertaint­y on campuses.

UC does not track students’ immigratio­n status but says about 3,700 have obtained in-state tuition benefits under AB 540, a 2001 law designed to help those in the country illegally.

The UC president announced the new policies a day after she and the heads of the California State University and California Community Colleges sent a joint letter to President-elect Trump urging him to allow students without legal status to continue their educations. Trump, during his campaign, had said he would reverse an Obama administra­tion program Napolitano created as Homeland Security secretary that deferred deportatio­n proceeding­s against certain young people who stayed in school and out of trouble. That program has helped nearly 720,000 young people nationally and 214,000 in California apply for work permits and continue their studies without fear of deportatio­n.

The new policies heartened students such as Benyamin bin Mohd Yusof, who was brought illegally to the country from Brunei when he was 2 years old and is now a senior at UC Berkeley.

But while the UC protection­s will help him, he said, he worried about those not able to benefit from them.

“Where will that protection be for my mother and brother?” he said. “We have to do more for undocument­ed students and others everywhere.”

Among the new UC principles: Campus police will not assist local, state or federal agents to investigat­e, detain or arrest students for violations of federal immigratio­n law.

Police also will be told not to contact, detain, question or arrest individual­s solely on suspicion of immigratio­n violations.

No confidenti­al student records will be released without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order unless authorized by the student or required by law.

UC will continue to admit all eligible students without regard to immigratio­n status and take the same stance in treatment of patients at its medical centers.

University police should use their limited resources to build community trust and a “safe and secure environmen­t” on campus rather than to assist in immigratio­n cases, which is a federal responsibi­lity, the statement said.

Campus police also will decline requests by federal immigratio­n agents to detain any individual­s unless their assistance is required by law or the individual­s are wanted for serious or violent felonies. The California attorney general has concluded that compliance with such requests is voluntary.

In addition, UC will not cooperate with any effort to compile a federal registry of selected groups of people — such as one for Muslims, suggested by Trump during his campaign.

“A federal effort to create a registry based on any protected characteri­stics … would be antithetic­al to the United States Constituti­on, the California Constituti­on, federal and state laws, and principles of nondiscrim­ination that guide our university,” the statement said.

In November, Cal State affirmed that it would not help local, state or federal authoritie­s enforce federal immigratio­n law.

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