UC campaign comes just weeks before US Supreme Court hears case on DACA
The UC’s “I Stand With…” campaign, which launched on Oct. 22, aims to encourage campus community members voice their solidarity with undocumented students and encourage a show of support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA).
The UC filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in September challenging the Trump administration’s abrupt rescission of DACA. The Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the case on Nov. 12.
The UC encourages individuals to write messages of support for both undocumented students and DACA recipients and share these on social media with related hashtags to promote the campaign. Additionally, the UC endorsed an online pledge to stand with DACA recipients. The pledge has since received over 8,000 signatures and will remain open as the case is brought to the Supreme Court.
“I stand with undocumented students because they deserve justice and the opportunities all Americans enjoy,” wrote UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May.
SPEAK, a student-run organization focused on supporting and empowering undocumented students at UC Davis, began promoting the “I Stand With Immigrants” and UC’s “I Stand With…” campaigns to raise awareness for the hearing.
On Oct. 22, the National “I Stand With Immigrants” Day of Action, SPEAK gave out shirts and stickers to those who wrote messages of support to immigrants and undocumented students. Afterwards, SPEAK held a dialogue around the campaign and presented ways to support immigrants.
“This year was crucial because of the DACA hearing,” said Angel Cardoza, a fourth-year and publicity coordinator for the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center and officer for SPEAK. “We were telling folks that 800,000 people’s lives are at stake. In 45 minutes to an hour, these DACA recipients’ lives are being chosen.”
Of the nearly 700,000 undocumented young people who currently rely on DACA, commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” about 1,700 individuals are students enrolled in the UC system.
“UC’s DACA students are studying to be the next generation of teachers, doctors, engineers, and other professions that make life better for everyone,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in a press release. “They are young people who simply want to continue to live, learn, and contribute to the country they consider home.”
Adriana Lopez Torres, a UC Davis Undergraduate alumna and current UC Davis School of Education Ph.D. student, recalled how DACA had allowed her to work as an orientation leader, a peer adviser for Latinx students and a teaching assistant in the school of education without fear of deportation. Since receiving it in 2012, she said DACA has made a huge and positive difference.
“DACA has given me the ability to find work, which has provided financial stability not just for me but for my family,” Torres said in a UC News article.
Once she completes her Ph.D., Torres hopes to go into educational policy to work in the Marin and Sonoma schools she attended as a child. She is interested in creating more constructive disciplinary practices, aside from suspension and expulsion, to increase student retention.
“I want to work there to make education better and more accessible for everyone,” Torres said.
Along with the possibility of losing security and financial stability, Torres said that a worse threat is being permanently separated from her parents and siblings, forcing her to leave the only country she’s ever known. Torres, along with the other hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on DACA.
“Being undocumented myself, I have longed for a future where I feel included and valued under the current socio-economic environment,” an anonymous source said. “I yearn to enjoy the privileges given to my citizen-born counterparts and have the same political freedom. My community has long been exploited and overlooked, constantly used a disposable resource. However, this campaign makes me hopeful that society is changing and that the circumstances faced by my community are being ameliorated.”
For the past three years, over 170 colleges and universities have celebrated the “I Stand With Immigrants” Day of Action — and many UC Davis student organizations have continued to pledge their support to the movement.
Cardoza said SPEAK and the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center have supported the “I Stand With Immigrants” campaign and other similar supportive efforts for the past three years. She credits fwd.us, a bipartisan political organization focused on “fixing the failed immigration and criminal justice systems,” with powering the campaign.
SPEAK hopes to bolster the efforts of other non-profit organizations in support of undocumented communities and Dreamers, according to Cardoza. She also highlighted the efforts of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and other activist groups that are leading the #HomeIsHere march from New York City to Washington, D.C. to bring visibility to the contributions that DACA recipients make to the U.S.
“We also want to reach out to other local organizations like M.E.Ch.A., Brown Issues [and] the Filipinx community because the undocumented community includes so many diverse identities within it,” Cardoza said.
Hundreds of corporations, national security experts, colleges and universities — including the UC — as well as members of Congress have filed amicus briefs to pledge support for DACA.
“The University of California is proud to lead this charge in support of DACA recipients at UC and across the nation,” Napolitano said. “It is heartening and invigorating to see so many standing with the university in pursuit of what is right.”
In anticipation of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court surrounding DACA, the UC Davis AB540 and Undocumented Student Center continues to provide holistic support and resources to their community.
“Through education and campus outreach, we empower our community to overcome the obstacles before us,” the center said in a statement. “As the University of California asserts its support for undocumented and DACAmented students and advocates judicially for DACA, we will continue to enrich and seek justice for our community as we push for a clean Dream Act.”
Written by: Graschelle Fariñas Hipolito — firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its print publication on Nov. 7 to include additional statements from an anonymous source and the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center.