The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the UC Board of Regents on Thursday, finding that President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program was “arbitrary.”
Since DACA was created in 2012, it has allowed more than 800,000 young immigrants to lawfully work and live in the United States, including more than 200,000 Californians and thousands of UC students, according to UC President Janet Napolitano. In September 2017, the UC system sued the Department of Homeland Security for its rescission of DACA, making it the first university to do so.
“We thank those dedicated individuals who stood with the University of California, the state of California, and all the groups that supported our case,” said John Pérez, chair of the Board of Regents, in a UC press release. “Today we join the entire UC community and all DACA recipients to celebrate this day of justice.”
Guadalupe Suarez, rising UC Berkeley junior and executive member of the campus organization Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education, which serves undocumented students, said she was “very happy” when she heard the decision.
Suarez added that, as the oldest of four children, she was relieved that her sister could now apply for the DACA program and start working.
“I know how much she was looking forward to work so she could support herself,” Suarez said. “Now, I’m so happy that she’ll get similar opportunities to what I have in terms of financial assistance. She’ll be able to start working, get her driver’s license. These were things I was worried she wouldn’t be able to do.”
While Thursday’s decision means DACA will remain in effect for now, the Supreme Court justices agreed that it is still legally possible for the president to cancel the program if done correctly.
Most immigration experts, however, believe that Trump will not be able to do so before the presidential election.
According to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, the Supreme Court’s decision allows DACA participants to “breathe a sigh of relief.”
“We want each member of our community to know that regardless of immigration status, you are an important part of this university,” Christ said in a campuswide email. “We will continue to be unequivocal in our support of you and work towards providing a safe and supportive environment for you.”
According to Christ’s email, the university is committed to advocating for a pathway to citizenship to permanently protect all undocumented members of the UC system. California Gov. Gavin Newsom also said in a press release that he will fight to ensure each person is treated with “dignity and respect,” as a path to citizenship will not be enough.
Suarez said she hopes UC Berkeley can be an ally to both undocumented students and DACA students, as DACA is very limiting in terms of eligibility. She added that those not protected by DACA have fewer resources.
There has been more discussion about issues undocumented students face, according to Suarez. She added that these discussions are a good place to push for more inclusivity and support.
“As a team, you can create change and demand it,” Suarez said. “It’s very relieving to live in this moment of all this uncertainty but still have something that gets fixed. The decision has been a symbol of hope for many of us.”