President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he would repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects approximately 800,000 young people in the United States from deportation.
University of California President Janet Napolitano spoke out against his action Tuesday morning, saying she was “deeply troubled” by the president’s “misguided decision.”
“The University of California will continue to stand with Dreamers and their supporters as we fight to keep the program alive,” Napolitano said in a statement, explaining that Trump’s “backward-thinking move” could destroy families and the futures of young people.
The DACA program was introduced in 2012 when former President Barack Obama signed it into law with an executive order. The UC has since admitted thousands of DACA recipients, and currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undocumented students across all its campuses, according to the UC Office of the President.
Neil Yanga, a third-year accounting and sociology major, began his first year at UCSB in 2015. He immigrated to the United States when he was three years old and is a recipient of DACA.
Like many other DACA recipients, Yanga has now spent the majority of his life in the U.S. He said his parents faced a “perpetual fear” that their family would be torn apart when he was growing up.
“My parents didn’t want me to go back to a country where I didn’t know the culture or language,” Yanga said. “It’s cruel to send anyone back to a place they’re unfamiliar with.”
Following Trump’s announcement, Yanga is concerned that he won’t be able to provide for his family. He has an internship lined up for next summer, and said he worries about losing work eligibility in the next year.
Several undocumented students have expressed fear and uncertainty over their status in the U.S., but Yanga said “we are an extremely resilient community.”
He appreciates the UC’s statements to support DACA recipients, but said administrative plans are not always executed in a timely manner, despite constant requests from students.
“There’s a disparity between what they say and what they do on campus,” Yanga said.
Yanga also noted that undocumented youth faced an uphill battle to secure Obama’s executive order, and they will now rely on activism and legislators to ensure protective measures that are not exclusive.
“We really need to reform the narrative so that it’s not a privilege to be here — it’s a right,” Yanga said.
In late 2016, UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang signed a statement in support of DACA. Chancellors from all 10 UC campuses, including UC President Janet Napolitano, also signed the statement.
Despite threats from the federal government, the UC will continue to support Napolitano’s D.R.E.A.M. Loan initiative for undocumented students, allocating $2.5 million per year for undocumented student fellowships and granting UC’s Undocumented Legal Services Center $900,000 per year under the Undocumented Student Services Program.
UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang released a statement Tuesday evening in support of Napolitano’s announcement.
Santa Barbara City College President Anthony E. Beebe also released a statement today in support of DACA recipients.
Trump has now handed over the repeal to Congress, which can suggest a replacement in six months before the president begins phasing out the program entirely.
Despite the prevalence of fear in many undocumented communities, Yanga said young DACA recipients will fight to protect each other.
“We have a really strong community that is filled with love and support no matter what kind of challenges we face,” Yanga said.