LOS ANGELES -- In the wake of the election, the University of California has decided to reaffirm that it will focus only on educating its students – not questioning the immigration status of those students.
Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, declared at the end of November in a statement that no UC schools will cooperate with federal agents in immigration cases or actions against students within the schools.
The announcement came after the election because of President-elect Donald Trump's views on immigration.
However, this policy applies to much more than just protecting the student population of the UC system. According to Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration-law professor at the UCLA School of Law, the policy put into place after the election encompasses a lot more than just protecting the student population – even though ensuring the UC-student population can focus on education is the main goal.
“The policy supports students and makes sure they graduate,” Motomura told the Northern California Record.
The policies put into place will not only protect students, but will also protect UC staff and patients at the hospitals within the UC system. Several hospitals in California are aligned with several UC universities, including UCLA and the UC-San Francisco, as both universities have medical schools.
As such, the policy has three tiers. The first tier explains what will be done to ensure students will feel safe at UC and be able to focus on their education, the second tier has details on shielding staff members working at the universities, and the third tier of the policy will focus on patient care at the various hospitals within the UC system.
Despite the fact that protecting students is the main goal, protecting patients so they can focus on getting the care they need is paramount so people can focus on getting better, not worry about immigration issues.
“Education and health care is our primary mission,” Motomura said.
While the UC schools are public, such policies can be applied at a private university as well, should the powers that be who run a private college choose to do so regardless of whether that college is in California or any other state.
“Any private school could declare the same thing,” Motomura said.
A major part of the noncooperation with federal authorities is that school-safety officers, who are charged at all colleges with protecting the student and staff population, will be taking that call to duty at all UC schools to a higher level by refusing to detain any student based on immigration status. This was something put into the policy by Napolitano.
“Campus police will not arrest anyone based on immigration status,” Motomura said.
The statement of noncooperation by UC could also be considered something else entirely and set a precedent for other universities to follow.
“UC’s statement is a form of state law,” Motomura said.