Photo Credits: ATE SHASKY / UC DAVIS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Legislation would amend citizenship requirement for law enforcement
In order to promote opportunity and increase UC student hiring eligibility, the UC Davis Police Department, led by Chief Joseph Farrow, is currently pursuing action to pass a bill exempting DACA students from the California citizenship requirement to become a peace officer.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was announced on June 15, 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security and grants certain legal privileges, including the right to work, to undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children. DACA is not the same as citizenship and is a deferment of deportation action.
Farrow’s goal is to enact change at the state level that would only affect the UC system. Under the proposal, DACA students would be able to become peace officers.
“[Currently,] persons with DACA status are not eligible because there is no pathway to citizenship,” Farrow said.
According to the police department’s website, the academy strives to provide “opportunity for UC Davis seniors and graduate students interested in law enforcement, forensics, criminology and array of other related professions.”
Witnessing a DACA student’s difficulties in the UC Davis Police Department’s Cadet Academy inspired Farrow to pursue this legislative action. Farrow described the student as “distinguished” and “an outstanding cadet.” Issues arose when Farrow wanted to hire him but could not due to legal restrictions.
“The reason I was interested in changing the law supports the very reason I choose to work here,” Farrow said. “Universities are places of social change. We can see things, ask why and perhaps make a change. I saw what I believed to be a problem with a possible resolution.”
Farrow also cited a report from President Barack Obama’s National Task Force on Policing, published in May 2015, as an inspiration for working on the bill. He found that Obama’s report on policing outlined ideals that could be proactively applied to this situation. According to the report, the task force was initiated in order “to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”
“One of the Pillars of their recommendations was to hire officers who reflected the communities they served,” Farrow said. “I strongly support their findings and the college campus is perhaps the best example of where this is true. One key recommendation is that law enforcement agencies should strive for a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience and cultural background at all levels of the organization.”
According to California Government Code Sections 1031 and 1031.5, to be a peace officer in the state one must either be a citizen or a candidate for citizenship. Neither of these Government Codes are inclusive of the population of the United States residents that have DACA status, since DACA students are not eligible for citizenship.
Currently, Farrow and others are in the gradual process of moving legislation into law, which includes working with the University of California Office of the President .
“Right now we are at the stage of gathering information [and] we do not have a draft text,” Farrow said. “When we look at this issue a little closer, we realized we would have to address a Federal statute […] which means we would have to clear both the state and federal legislative processes. We simply need more time to prepare for such an undertaking.”
Farrow also stated that while the legislation did not receive UCOP’s approval to move forward, that “Chancellor [Gary] May was a strong supporter as is the University President.”
In response to this proposed legislation, UC Davis’ Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Dana Topousis, emailed The California Aggie the following statement on behalf of UC Davis, including May’s view.
“On behalf of UC Davis, I can say that undocumented students contribute to the rich diversity of cultures and perspectives that is integral to our success as a university that serves all Californians,” Topousis said. “They are paving a future for themselves and their families so they can give back to our society. UC Davis graduates who have DACA status have blossomed with careers in medicine, law, science, social work and much more. UC Davis stands firmly in support of all of our undocumented students.”
Farrow stated that this legislation is a continuation of the UC Davis Police Department’s efforts to respond to the campus’ needs and build community trust.
“Policing on a college campus calls for the most contemporary and modern law enforcement agency,” Farrow said. “At the UC Davis Police Department, we are working from the principles in the task force report and taking a critical look at our policies and practices. We want to meet the highest standards of professionalism and make sure our policies are current and relevant.”
Written By: Priyanka Shreedar — firstname.lastname@example.org