UC President Michael Drake and Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib issued a statement Thursday about expanding “enriching” employment opportunities for students, regardless of their immigration status.
The board designated a working group to consider potential challenges and to create an application plan and a legal strategy by the end of November, according to the statement. The group will decide how and when to move forward with further steps.
“The University is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their immigration status, can pursue and attain a world-class UC education,” according to the statement.
Liliana Iglesias, director of UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, said undocumented students face challenges in accessing off-campus housing, scholarships, professional development and work and research opportunities.
She added that limitations faced by undocumented students can increase their stress toward their career pathways after graduation.
“Experiencing these barriers can take a toll on students’ mental health and wellbeing, as they can feel othered, like they do not belong and hopeless due to their immigration status,” Iglesias said in an email.
Eric Zhu, Opportunity for All coordinator and member of UC Berkeley’s External Affairs Office, spoke during the public comment session of a board meeting May 17, and expressed the lack of support for undocumented students across UC campuses.
He explained that Opportunity for All’s initiative will push the administration to implement a policy to ensure the hiring of undocumented student workers at every UC campus.
At the same regents meeting, Racial Justice Now campaign coordinator Melody Torres called on the administration to uphold its values of “providing equal access to opportunities for all of its students regardless of their immigration status.”
“The UC has an opportunity and obligation to remove barriers to employment for all students on all of their campuses,” Torres said during the public comment period.
Torres said the UC must act immediately to “end the discrimination” of the 44,000 undocumented students across the state who lack access to campus employment opportunities.
As a student worker, Torres added that she understands the importance of having a work-study job to support herself and her academic career.
At UC Berkeley, Iglesias noted that the Undocumented Student Program works to provide the immigrant community with a sense of belonging through its services. She added that campus also provides support and advocates for undocumented students who get detained.
Iglesias explained the importance of providing tailored support to undocumented and immigrant students across campus.
“UC Berkeley’s core values include being inclusive to all members of our campus community,” Iglesias said in the email. “As such, it is our responsibility to provide tailored support and the same access to opportunities to our different student populations so that they can succeed and thrive.”