Fulfilling President Donald Trump’s vows to be harder on undocumented immigrants, numerous actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents targeting undocumented persons around the country have left many reeling in shock. Just recently, ICE activities have been seen as close as Ventura. Considering the proximity to the raid and the considerable number of people on campus who are or know somebody who is undocumented, these are troubling times.
The coordinator for UCSB’s Undocumented Student Services, Diana Valdivia, spoke of the damage that ICE has done, saying “just in general too, the undocumented community and the immigrant community has been scared of the recent raids.”
“I think the other thing too is that it’s creating a lot of panic and fear, but also confusion around what exactly is going on,” Valdivia said.
While ICE has conducted deportation operations in the past, it is the randomness of and the rapidity of the actions that is unnerving. Trump may have promised to deport “criminals and rapists,” and ICE has reiterated the purpose of their targeted enforcement actions being to capture and deport harmful lawbreakers. Although they are indeed going after known criminals, there is still fear over what will constitute a violation of the law.
Take, for instance, Guadalupe García de Rayos. An undocumented woman who had been living in Arizona for years, she routinely checked in with her ICE officials under the Obama administration only to be seized and deported for following the law after choosing to appear before ICE in the first place. Additionally, As Democracy Now reports, a young man living under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was recently detained by ICE agents.
The program was meant to help naturalize illegal immigrants who had come here while young and was a program Trump announced his administration would “show great heart” towards. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a DACA recipient, was arrested under the charge of being affiliated with a gang. The only connections provided were one tattoo that read “peace” and another that was the initials of where he was born in Baja California.
Furthermore, as Vox reports, a new Department of Homeland Security memo puts even more immigrants at risk. While the prior administration focused on convicted criminals for deportation, the new memo targets persons currently in violation of the law, with one such violation being here undocumented. Additionally, ICE can now deputize local police to serve as an extension.
Other campus groups that work with undocumented students could not be reached for comment.
The University of California does have a guiding philosophy for the current times, University of California president Janet Napolitano declared. Through an email statement to The Bottom Line, Chancellor Henry Yang reaffirmed his commitment to UCSB’s undocumented students and the UC’s message.
“We are committed to our academic mission and our values as a public university in a multicultural state and a global environment,” Yang wrote. “Every member of our UC Santa Barbara family enriches this wonderful living, learning, and working environment of ours, which we are so fortunate to share.”
In spite of these reassuring words, however, a sense of uncertainty still lingers. For many students, the concern is that while the UC may be able to say that they support one message, when faced with the threat of the federal government withdrawing funds they may feel it necessary to contradict themselves. In addition to uncertainty over how federal law enforcement agencies may pursue new policies, there is also the fear over how the government could punish the UC as a whole.
Following protests at UC Berkeley that cancelled a speaking event by the controversial Milo Yiannopoulos, Trump threatened to defund the school. He has made several similar threats to sanctuary cities that rebuffed his demands for increased deportation. A withdrawal of federal funds would damage the UC, forcing it to either raise tuition prices or shut down in order to meet operating costs.
Closer to home there is also concern over how UC Santa Barbara’s police department will respond. The Ventura raids were a joint operation between police and ICE, and the idea of an on-campus collaborator with ICE is worrisome. As of the time of writing, the police have not delivered a concrete statement on what their future relationship with ICE will be.
For now, though, students will have to be content with learning what rights are available to them, undocumented or not. Undocumented Student Services plans to continue its information campaigns such as Immigrant Awareness Week, as well as hosting legal seminars.