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California's Higher Education Leaders Urge Trump To Continue DACA

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Royce Hall at UCLA. (Photo by Zack Simone via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The three leaders of California's higher education system have sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to keep allowing undocumented students to continue their education in the United States.

During the campaign, Trump pledged to deport all people who are in the country illegally. This would, presumably, include people who are protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which defers the deportation of individuals (known as DREAMers) who were brought here illegally as children. Because DACA was done under an executive order, the forthcoming Trump administration could easily wipe those protections away without an act of Congress.

"College and university leaders across the country, and here in California, are concerned about reports regarding potential actions you might be considering, including ending the [DACA] program," wrote UC President Janet Napolitano, Cal State University Chancellor Timothy P. White and California Community Colleges Chancellor-Designate Eloy Ortiz Oakley in a joint-letter to the President-elect. "On behalf of DACA students currently pursuing their dream of higher education in the United States, we urge you to continue this important program and allow these young people to continue to pursue a college education and contribute to their communities and the nation."

"These sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants are as American as any other child across the nation, in all but in the letter of the law," the letter continues.

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Click here to read the letter.

California has over 214,000 DACA recipients, the most of any state, but there is no official count of how many are currently in the combined higher-education system. The closest we come to naming a figure, according to the L.A. Times, is the number of undocumented people who applied for in-state tuition under AB 540, which allows some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition fees (as opposed to out-of-state tuition). In 2015, almost 75,000 people applied for the waivers, according to the Times.

In the wake of Trump's election, and after his campaign used racist rhetoric to demonize Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, officials at both the local and state level have pledged to stand up for undocumented immigrants in California. Senator-elect Kamala Harris pledged to protect DACA recipients, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAUSD have promised to designate campuses as "safe-zones," and the LAPD has said they would not help the Trump administration in their efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Over at USC, students and faculty have rallied to make their school a "sanctuary campus," though officials there have not taken any action yet.

Update [12/1]: On Wednesday USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Quick penned a letter to the USC community, saying, "We follow the constitutional mandate against unreasonable searches and seizures and therefore ask that law enforcement acquire the appropriate warrants prior to assisting them in contacting anyone in our community." Quick continued, "Our Department of Public Safety follows the lead of the Los Angeles Police Department, which does not initiate law enforcement activities based solely on immigration status."

Earlier this month, USC President C. L. Max Nikias signed a letter, along with over 300 other colleges and universities across the nation, in pledging their support for DACA and the undocumented students on their campuses.

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If you are undocumented in Los Angeles, here's what you need to know.