Undocumented Student Coalition and AS Senate Take a Stand

Fourth year Chican@ and black studies double major Abigail Salazar lobbies for A Resolution in Support of Immediate Action toward the Undocumented Community, which aims to improve student relations and increase support from Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS). Frances Castellon/Staff Photographer

Gwendolyn Wu
Campus Beat Reporter

Members of a campus undocumented student coalition sat through four hours of the Wed., Jan. 13 Associated Students Senate meeting, waiting for the Senate to pass A Resolution in Support of Immediate Action toward the Undocumented Community with a vote of 23-0-0.

The coalition came to discuss recent events on campus and in the state, citing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on undocumented families throughout California. Members of University of California, Santa Barbara Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (IDEAS), a student organization that represents undocumented students on campus, helped authors On-Campus Senator Jose Magaña, a second year pre-political science major, and Off-Campus Senator Alejandra Melgoza, a third year Chican@ studies major, craft the statement.

The resolution asks the Senate to denounce the raids, create a temporary committee to improve student relations headed by the authors of the resolution and push Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to provide more counselors for undocumented students arriving on campus.

Coalition spokesperson Abigail Salazar, a fourth year Chican@ and black studies double major, shared an anecdote about when ICE raided her family’s home years ago. The law enforcement organization, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, surrounded her home and deported her mother a similar scene to what has been happening not only in Santa Barbara County, but across the country.

“A lot of people started celebrating New Years but we started our new year with fear,” Salazar said. “We would think that coming back to school would be a safe space because back home is not a safe space. Our families and friends are in danger of being deported, and us, as surrounding family members, are experiencing those effects.”

Meanwhile on campus, some students are uncomfortable with the recruiters that will be present at the annual Winter Career Fair. Among the companies present at the fair, which will be held on Jan. 28, are U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who requested to come on campus.

While UCSB Career Services cannot reject recruiters interested in hiring students so long as they fit the employer criteria, it is possible that enough pressure from students and faculty could cause them to withdraw. In October 2015, CBP resigned quietly from a fall career fair after students at the University of California, Irvine petitioned the Associated Students of UCI.

One key fact that Melgoza and Salazar noted was the actions of the sixty-fourth Associated Students Senate in fall 2013, when they failed to pass A Resolution in Support of Undocumented Student and Immigrant Communities. The Senate gave current University of California President Janet Napolitano, the former United States Secretary of Homeland Security, a vote of confidence. Students said that Napolitano’s actions as Secretary of Homeland Security in deporting 1.5 million undocumented individuals — and her subsequent appointment as UC President disregarded numerous undocumented students and their families that the UC system serves.

Despite vocalizing some support of undocumented students during the Undocumented Student Summit last year, Napolitano has failed to take action, according to second year political science major Mariel Islas. This resolution may improve relations between the UC Office of the President and students at all campuses.

Senators agreed enthusiastically with the proposal. Off-Campus Senator Jerel Constantino, a third year history of public policy and political science double major, shared how some of his relatives were undocumented for a time, and called on the Senate to pass the resolution. “The fact that I’m here [at UCSB] is a testament to their dream,” Constantino said.

In effect, the resolution serves as a vocal student denouncement of ICE raids and the Border Patrol’s presence at the Winter Career Fair. Should members of the administration take notice, a more firm university-wide stance may appear in the coming year.

Gwendolyn Wu is a third year double majoring in history and sociology, and is the 2016-2017 Executive Content Editor of The Bottom Line. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and attended Cleveland High School, and is interested in pursuing journalism as a career. When not poring over history books, she's watching Cutthroat Kitchen and mentoring first year students.