UC’s Stand Against Government

Photo courtesy of UCSB

Jade Martinez-Pogue
National Beat Reporter

On Sept. 27, 2019, the UC Board of Regents filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program in 2017. The recent filing of the brief has renewed the debate surrounding DACA, especially amongst students and faculty.

In the brief, the University of California System argues that the Trump Administration acted unlawfully when it announced it would rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It argues that the decision was unconstitutional, unjust, and “arbitrary and capricious.” The case is set to be argued in the Supreme Court on Nov.12, but a decision must be made by the end of June 2020. 

DACA was first introduced by the Obama Administration in 2012 and allows any individual who was brought to the United States before the age of 16 to work and study after meeting certain requirements — which includes living in the United States since 2007 or before, being under the age of 31, and not having been convicted of a felony offense.

DACA currently allows for 700,000 students across the nation to build their careers through various universities — 1,700 of those students attend schools in the UC system, according to the 2019 National DACA Study.

“The message is clear — DACA has benefited hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who simply want to continue contributing to the country and communities they consider home,” said John A. Perez, Chair of the UC Board of Regents, in a press statement last week. 

While DACA allows students to study in the United States and provides opportunities for those who were not born here, the creation of it has stirred in complicated political elements. 

Janet Napolitano, the current President of the University of California, initially authorized the DACA program back in 2012 when she was serving as the Secretary of Homeland Security under the Obama Administration. 

“On paper, it’s a good decision. But from my mind, it’s still a little complicated,” said Ralph Armbruster Sandoval in an interview with TBL. Sandoval is the Chicano Studies Department Chair at UC Santa Barbara.

While the Trump Administration has been vocal about their immigration policies, an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute shows that five million people were deported under the Obama Administration, while Napolitano was Secretary of Homeland Security. DACA was created in June of 2012, just months before the 2012 Presidential election.

“DACA was a concession to the Latino community,” said Armbruster Sandoval. “Had [Obama] not created DACA, the Latino community might not have turned out for him during the election.”

Despite a controversial birth of the program, DACA has made a huge impact in the lives of many and is a policy that the UC system is fighting hard to keep. When news of the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate DACA broke back in September of 2017, it sent a wave of distress across UCSB’s campus.

“It wasn’t surprising. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t horrible and wasn’t terrible, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t predictable,” said Armbruster Sandoval.

Fourth-year English major and Dreamer, Rubalcava, a student who wishes to only go by her last name, remembers going to her lawyer immediately after the news broke to see what this meant for her. 

“I wouldn’t be able to leave the country for any emergencies and I could no longer study abroad with DACA because if [Trump] were to rescind it while I was out of the country, I wouldn’t be able to come back,” said Rubalcava as tears swelled in her eyes. “It was so upsetting because I see my friends that all go get to study abroad and I won’t ever be able to experience that.”

Shortly after President Trump’s announcement, the University of California filed the first  lawsuit against the government’s decision, which sent a hopeful and supporting message to students affected by the Administration’s decision.

“I feel like there’s at least someone on my side. They think that I do belong here and that I shouldn’t be sent back to a place that I don’t know,” Rubalcava said. “It’s nice to see that support from such a big institution.”

While the University of California was the first university system to sue the government, hundreds of corporations have filed amicus briefs, briefs of support that provide additional information as well. 

An amicus brief filed by the American Historical Association looked at Trump’s rhetoric specifically in attempts to prove that he was racially motivated in his decision to rescind DACA. They look at the radical wording in his statements to try and prove that it is about race and not just legal security issues.

The University of California, along with many other associations and corporations, believes in giving those who consider America their home a chance to stay and build their own path. 

“I didn’t choose to come here, I was brought here. I don’t really know Mexico, all I know is the U.S.,” said Rubalcava. “If I were forced to go back there, I wouldn’t have anything.”