California State University (CSU), University of California (UC) and California Community College systems leaders sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump today, asking that he maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which spares people who were brought to the country illegally as minors from deportation, so they can pursue higher education.
The program was enacted by President Barack Obama in 2012 to offer protection for those who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were younger than 16, provided they have not been convicted of a serious crime.
Trump’s outspoken criticisms of illegal immigration and his vows to deport millions of people who live in the country illegally have raised concerns that the DACA program will be eliminated.
The two-page letter written by CSU Chancellor Timothy White, UC President Janet Napolitano and incoming CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley urges Trump to maintain the DACA program to “allow these young people to continue to pursue a college education and contribute to their communities and the nation.”
“The University of California, California State University and the California Community College systems each have thousands of DACA students studying at our institutions,” the letter reads. “They are constructive and contributing members of our communities. They should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported or rounded up for just trying to learn. There will be a time for a vigorous debate and dialogue around immigration reform in the days ahead, and we look forward to engaging with you in a healthy and constructive conversation on this important issue.”
The letter comes amid students and immigration-advocacy groups expressing that college campuses in the state be declared as “sanctuaries” and therefore off-limits to immigration authorities.
Earlier in November, White responded to CSU students and staff with a letter declining to declare the campuses as “sanctuaries,” but assured the system will not honor immigration-hold requests or work with law-enforcement agencies attempting to enforce federal immigration laws.
The UC system has also created a committee to study DACA and other immigration issues and their possible impact on students.
City News Service contributed to this report.