The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, unconstitutional Oct. 5, barring new undocumented immigrant from applying to the program.
DACA, which began in 2012, provided deportation protection and work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States during childhood. The federal ruling bars new applicants from receiving program benefits; current DREAMERS and renewal applicants are not affected.
In response to the decision, California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California issued a joint statement Oct. 6.
“Even as we hope that this decision is overturned, the uncertainty it creates is untenable,” the statement reads. “DACA recipients deserve to have their status as equal Americans protected from court decisions like this one.”
The statement notes the contributions of undocumented students to the university over the 10 years of DACA protections for college students.
Further, the statement confirmed both undocumented and DACA students will continue to be permitted to enroll in all public California colleges and universities.
“The decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals does not change our mission to welcome and serve all students,” the statement reads. “This is what we have always done, and we will not waver. We will continue to do all we can to ensure our undocumented students feel safe and supported on our campuses.”
The statement did, however, express support for the parts of the decision that allow current recipients to renew and extend their DACA status and lengthen the period of adjustment.
At UC Berkeley, the Undocumented Student Program, or USP, expressed a similarly mixed reaction in an email to students.
“While we are disheartened that the fifth circuit ruled DACA ‘illegal’, we are also relieved that they did not end the program altogether as they very well could have,” the USP said in an email. “Also, though this is semi-good news for some, it continues to perpetuate uncertainty in the community and justified disappointment for those with and without DACA who were and keep hoping for a more promising outcome.”
Director Liliana Iglesias said USP stands with the students and families impacted by the federal ruling and directed community members to take advantage of the resources USP offers undocumented students on campus. These resources include academic advising, mental health support, emergency grants and legal immigration aid through the East Bay Community Law Center, according to Iglesias.
Undocumented graduate students have access to similar resources at USP, in addition to the Office for Graduate Diversity, which is equipped with a full-time undocumented graduate student specialist. For campus undergraduates, the Marco Antonio Firebaugh Scholars program provides undocumented and formerly incarcerated students, among others, with research grants and guidance for graduate applications.
Despite these resources, Iglesias considers legislative change necessary for the future of undocumented immigrants.
“The bottom line is that Congress needs to act on comprehensive immigration reform,” the USP said in the email.