Time is running out for California State University students who were illegally brought into the country as children to renew their status or face potential deportation.
In a letter to students, CSU Chancellor Timothy White warned that Oct. 5 is the deadline for those whose Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, coverage ends on or before March 5, 2018.
“Renewal of your DACA status may be your only opportunity to obtain an additional two years of deportation protection and legal work authorization,” White said.
The Obama-era program delays immigration enforcement against young people who are not citizens; it provides them with the ability to continue working and attending school in the United States and also allows them to apply for financial aid.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced he was ending the program, and he gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution to protect the Dreamers, as the DACA participants are known.
At Cal Poly, President Jeffrey Armstrong has reached out to DACA students, and last year a DREAM Center was set up to provide those students with support.
“We at Cal Poly stand in support of our undocumented students, faculty and staff. Cal Poly leadership will continue to ensure that the university remains a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for every member of our campus community,” Armstrong wrote in a letter published Sept. 5.
The Cal Poly University Police Department also recently clarified its own policy regarding immigration enforcement: It won’t do it.
“Primary jurisdiction for enforcement of federal immigration laws concerning unlawful entry into the United States rests with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), not with the University Police,” UPD wrote in a policy statement.
That means UPD officers will not arrest students suspected of being undocumented residents, nor will they partner with federal law enforcement to do so unless legally compelled.
“The University Police Department will not honor ICE immigration hold requests, unless ... required by law,” the department said. “Individuals will not be contacted, detained, questioned, or arrested solely on the basis of being or suspected of being an undocumented immigrant, except as required by law.”
The policy statement was in response to a memo from White in November 2016 “clarifying the system’s and campuses’ relationship with ICE,” Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said.
“UPD has never conducted federal immigration enforcement. It’s not part of the department’s mission,” Lazier said.
However, ICE or other federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI can still come onto campus to conduct enforcement actions, provided they have the legal authority, such as a court order or a search warrant.
It’s not clear how many Cal Poly students or staff are part of the DACA program.
“The CSU system as a whole and its campuses do not keep track of numbers of DACA employees or students,” Lazier said.
Friday marks the end of “Undocuweek 2017,” sponsored by the Cal Poly Career Services Diversity Support Fund. It’s also the day of a planned protest of California Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who has come out against bills that would turn California and its university campuses into “sanctuaries,” preventing state and local law enforcement from using resources to engage in immigration enforcement.
The “Emergency Rally to Protect Undocumented Californians” is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo. Protesters are expected to march to Cunningham’s office, 444 Higuera St., at 10:30 a.m.