The Associated Students (A.S.) Senate met Wednesday to discuss a bill amending the legal code of an Office of Student Advocacy bill and a resolution asking for “immediate” action in support of those without legal status.
The first proposal, “A Resolution Requesting Immediate Action in Support of the Undocumented Community,” was partially written by Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (I.D.E.A.S.), a group advocating for the rights of undocumented immigrants at UCSB. The resolution urged A.S. to form a temporary committee to work with I.D.E.A.S. and to increase access to Counseling and Psychological Services for undocumented students. The resolution was written in response to recent Immigration and Custom Enforcement (I.C.E.) raids in California and the expected presence of Customs and Border Patrol recruiters at the Winter Career Fair.
Abby Salazar, a student sponsor of the bill and fourth-year Chican@ studies and black studies double major, said she had opened the door of her home to I.C.E. officers, not knowing “that action would change the rest of my life.”
“They immediately handcuffed my mom and sat me down,” Salazar said. “They took her away and I went into a state of panic. It’s been six years that my mom hasn’t been able to return to her home that my parents have worked for after so many years.”
Salazar said many undocumented students are currently living in fear after news of the I.C.E. raids and deportations.
“A lot of people started celebrating New Years, but we started our year with fear,” Salazar said. “We think coming back to school would be a safe space because back at home, it’s not a safe space because our families and friends are in danger of being deported”.
Mariel Islas, second-year history of public policy major, said recent news of I.C.E. raids coupled with border patrol recruiters attending the career fair may trigger fear and panic in undocumented students.
“When customs and border patrol comes to the career fair, C.A.P.S. should be on hand with more psychologists and therapists,” Islas said. “That way, students who do feel triggered have the ability and the means to contact someone in C.A.P.S. who are able to help them.”
Islas said she collaborated with A.S. senators Alejandra Melgoza and Jose Magana, who proposed that she write a resolution.
Alejandra Melgoza, an off-campus senator and third-year Chican@ studies major, said she supports the resolution because of the stress and pressure undocumented students have to face while pursuing their education.
“There have been a lot of raids in our community,” Melgoza said. “There are articles that state they are continuing in Santa Barbara county, so this presents a lot of mental health stress not only on these students here in this community, but they also worry about their families back home, friends, community members.”
In the fall of 2013, the 64th A.S Senate voted against passing “A Resolution in Support of Undocumented Student and Immigrant Communities,” which requested A.S. express no confidence toward former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who is now president of the University of California.
Salazar said it is important for Senate to repair its relationship with the undocumented student population at UCSB in order to fully represent the student body.
Two years after, A.S. Senate voted down the previous resolution, Salazar said, “Now we’re back in the same place. We’re coming here for the 66th Senate to amend those actions and to really support undocumented students right now because undocumented students are facing really difficult times.”
“A Bill to Amend Lobby Corps Legal Code” and “A Bill to Update CFF By-Laws” were sent to Campus Affairs. “A Bill to Amend the Legal Code of the OSA Bill” and “A Resolution Requesting Immediate Action in Support of the Undocumented Community” were passed unanimously.
[Correction: This story originally read “a resolution asking for ‘immediate’ action in support of those who immigrated to the country illegally.” The wording was changed to “those without legal status” to more accurately describe the purpose of the resolution.]