“Much is uncertain, and we’re probably not going to have good answers for a while,” Yamilet Valladolid told Dreamers and friends at a Stanislaus State forum. Valladolid, president of the Hispanic Leadership Council of Stanislaus County, summed up what little assurance the community had Sept. 8 as students headed into a suddenly edge-of-the-seat semester.
President Donald Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, threw some 223,000 California teens and young adults into a world of uncertainty.
“No one really thought it would go away, because these are real lives,” said Noelia Gonzalez, director of admissions and financial aid, and chair of the Stanislaus State Dreamers Committee. Gonzalez estimates more than 300 Dreamers, including DACA recipients, attend the University.
University officers stand ready to ensure the legal rights are upheld of any campus community member approached by an outside official about immigration status, as CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement: “The University Police Department will act as a liaison with the on-site official, and will coordinate with the (CSU) Office of General Counsel to provide guidance, references and resources as available.”
The CSU stops short of declaring its sites “sanctuary campuses,” Gonzalez said in response to audience questions, because on public property open to all the term is misleading.
State laws and state financial aid are not affected by the federal decision, but DACA protects students from deportation and allows them to get work permits.
Beyond losing their livelihood, students in several disciplines need to complete practical hours outside the University, faculty brought up at the forum. With DACA, criminal justice students can work with law enforcement. Future educators can student teach. Nursing program participants can get clinical training. Without protected status, the instructors asked, would the required background checks put immigrant students at risk?
Those questions will be among those the University and community groups will work to answer, speakers said, as they listed a number of resources for undocumented students.
- Stan State has a Dreamers page on its website with links to CSU and community groups, scholarships and resources for parents and students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with the Dreamers Committee.
- There will be another Dreamers Forum in early October, held in partnership with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. The center has legal information, including a red card with what to say and do if approached by immigration officers.
- On campus, anyone approached by officials about immigration concerns is strongly encouraged to call University Police at 209-667-3114 or email email@example.com.
- To help concerned or stressed students, the University has counseling services available and the Stan Cares team.
- Coming up, a Diversity Center is being created in the Library building, and Mecha and other student organizations are planning fundraisers and Dreamer support events.
Valladolid urged the audience of roughly 200 students, faculty and staff to lobby Congress for a more permanent solution. She pointed advocates toward Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who has called for a path to citizenship for immigrants serving in the military. Denham is among a handful of Republicans willing to work toward immigration reform, she said.
“We can’t just stay static with another DACA. We need a permanent reform,” Valladolid said. “We can’t have this happen again. We need to protect our young people.”