University of California system rejects hiring plan for undocumented students to work

Vince Ybarra Image
Friday, January 26, 2024
University of California system discussing allowing undocumented students to work
Thousands of young college students without legal immigration status could soon be able to work on campus if the University of California passes a new proposal.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The University of California is holding off on plans to hire undocumented students on college campuses.

On Thursday, the University of California Governing Board of Regents shelved a plan that would have provided job opportunities for undocumented students who were brought to the US by their parents as children.

UC President Michael Drake said after the vote the "legal pathway is not viable at this time and, in fact, carries significant risks for the institution and for those who we serve."

It's a decision that affects roughly 4,000 current university students across the state, including this UCLA student who spoke at the meeting prior to the vote.

"I have fought for my education. I have fought and worked hard to be where I am today. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been handed to me," said the student.

She is one of the people who have been on a hunger strike since Tuesday, waiting for a decision from the board of regents.

The board, made up of 26 members, has been under pressure from activists to approve the plan.

Merced Barrera is the Legal Program Director for the Community and Labor Center at UC Merced.

She says it's important to stand with undocumented students.

"It's unfair that California gave students this hope and help them get into the UCs, but then they don't help them actually bring that dream together by providing them with the resources that they need to get a job that's equivalent to the education," said Barrera.

"I'm just disappointed that this is a topic overall."

UC Merced student Alex Ragde says undocumented students have so much to offer.

"These people come here, they're really smart, they're really talented. And it's just really unfair to them that we just punish them for it," said Ragde.

For others, the topic hits close to home.

Jeovanni Orozco says a close friend of his shares the struggles they face while trying to achieve a higher education.

"We talk about how he's worried about paying rent at the end of the month. Where he's worried about making sure he has food at the end of the month. Let them worry about school, don't let them worry about making ends meet," Orozco explained.

Politico reported this week that the Biden Administration also got involved in this debate and asked the University of California not to pass this plan to allow undocumented students to get jobs on campus.

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