by Evan Symon at californiaglobe.com
The University of California Board of Regents voted 9-6 on Thursday to halt a plan that would have allowed students without legal status in the United States to apply for jobs on campus, moving the final vote on the matter until at least 2025.
Since October 2022, undocumented student leaders in the University of California (UC) system have pushed forward an “opportunity for all” campaign aimed at expanding opportunities and protections for illegal immigrant students. In May of last year, they scored their first major victory, when the UC Board of Regents announced that they were in favor of removing hiring restrictions for undocumented students.
However, that decision soon gained the ire of legal experts and the federal government who said that allowing the hiring of illegal alien students on campus would violate the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. With many regents signaling they would not vote for it, the debate over the situation on campus grew. Votes over the matter were delayed several times last year as both support and opposition threats grew. With a vote over allowing the students to have campus jobs finally set for a January 25th vote in November, students quickly tried to convince the board otherwise.
Beginning on January 23rd, students across all 10 UC campuses began hunger strikes, hoping to dissuade the 15 regents to approve the plan. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students also gave heartfelt pleas to the regents during hearings, urging them to allow the 4,000 illegal immigrant students to be allowed to work on campus. However, opponents also received a strong ally in the decision: the Biden Administration. Department of Homeland Security officials specifically warned UC that they could be facing administrative action or a lawsuit should they continue their efforts.
Faced with federal pressure, as well as not being able to legally implement such a hiring program, the Board of Regents voted 9-6 on Thursday to not allow those students to have jobs on campus this year, moving the final vote to at least 2025.
“We concluded that the proposed legal pathway is not viable at this time, and in fact carries significant risks for the institution and for those we serve,” said UC President Michael V. Drake on Thursday. “For that reason, it is inadvisable for the university to initiate implementation right now.”