Editor’s note: This column is one in a series written by University of California President Janet Napolitano as part of a partnership with New America Media, whose members include this publication.
The University of California is home to more than 250,000 students. They come to us from all over the state, the nation and the world, encompassing diverse ethnicities, faiths, economic backgrounds and personal experiences.
Diversity is one of the many factors that make UC special and successful. We bring together people with many differences, who also happen to share the goals of learning, creating and sharing new knowledge, and making the world a better place.
Among that diverse body of UC students is a population that is especially vulnerable right now: young people who were brought to the United States as children, lacking documentation. These “Dreamers,” as they are known, are deeply rooted in their communities – and ours. They are committed to pursuing their education and continuing to contribute to the only home many of them have ever known.
Over the last four years, many have voluntarily come out of the shadows to enroll in a federal program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives qualified individuals protection against removal from the country and the ability to work lawfully for two years, subject to renewal.
The recent presidential election has caused understandable anxiety and uncertainty among these students. Many of them are worried about public statements made during the presidential campaign and its aftermath. They wonder how new policies and appointments implemented by the incoming administration may affect them and others like them.
These bright students, like all UC students, deserve our protection and support. And they need it now more than ever.
As President of the University of California, I am strongly committed to continuing to support and protect all members of our university community, including undocumented students. From the earliest days of my presidency at UC, I have acted to ensure that these students are on equal footing with others so they can fulfill their aspirations. That began with the introduction of the UC Undocumented Student Initiative, launched just weeks after I joined the University in 2013. The initiative provides various types of support to undocumented students at UC, and helps pave a path forward for them.
Most recently, UC Chancellors and I reaffirmed our intentions to ensure that every corner of the University of California remains welcoming, safe and inclusive for all, demonstrated by policies we will uphold related to admissions, student records, UC police, UC medical centers, and more.
DACA participants are law-abiding, contributing members of our society, already woven into the rich fabric of America. Now, as President of UC, I will do everything I can – as will our campus chancellors – to ensure that these promising students can continue to pursue the American dream at the University of California, and beyond.