As federal lawmakers negotiate a government spending deal, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains at the center of an attempt for a bipartisan solution on immigration.
Congress has until Feb. 8 to agree on government spending, and until then will abide by short-term bill H.R. 195 to fund the government without coming to a resolution for the children of undocumented immigrants.
President Donald Trump formally ended DACA on Sept. 5, 2017 and expects to fully end the program by March 5.
It is uncertain where DACA will leave its 800,000 recipients at a federal level, but California legislators and the University of California (UC) have stated they will continue to provide support for undocumented students.
“If there’s a federal restriction, then there will be a restriction for federal resources for undocumented students in accessing them; however, for most resources they don’t need DACA to access, for example, The California Dream Act,” said Diana Valdivia, coordinator of Dream Scholars/Undocumented Students Services at UC Santa Barbara.
Valdivia said the California Dream Act, which allows undocumented individuals who have AB 540 status to apply for financial aid at the state and institutional level, will not be affected by DACA ending. Educational aid in California will not be affected regardless of DACA status.
The UC Immigrant Legal Services Center will continue to provide legal services to undocumented students with or without DACA, according to Valdivia.
In 2013, the UC Office of the President allocated $5 million across the 10 UC campuses for undocumented student support and later earmarked $8.4 million a year through the 2018-19 academic year to be divided among the UC’s DREAM Loan Program, Undocumented Legal Services and targeted undergraduate and graduate fellowships.
UC President Janet Napolitano also released a statement on Sept. 12, 2017, expressing support for undocumented students and prohibited UC campus police from contacting, detaining and arresting individuals based on suspected undocumented status.
In September, Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 54, which declared California a sanctuary state, prohibiting local and state law enforcement agencies from collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Congressman Salud Carbajal received local backlash on his decision to vote for H.R. 195, since the government shutdown was later seen as a Democratic tactic to demand legal protection for undocumented students. His campaign platform was largely based on supporting undocumented students.
At an open forum, Carbajal representative Elijah Ettenger said that Carbajal voted for H.R. 195 to maintain private assistance for mudslide victims in Santa Barbara County.
According to a Congressional Affairs Advisory document, certain requests for individual disaster assistance will no longer be possible during a government shutdown. These include requests for case management and crisis counseling, which would require review or approval from a furloughed employee.
Trump has expressed openness to a deal that would create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients in exchange for funding of his promised wall at the border of the United States and Mexico. Valdivia did not offer an opinion on the possibility.
“If you were to ask me and then you ask someone else, then their notion would be different,” she said. “It would be a political guess.”
A version of this article appeared on pg. 3 of the Feb. 1 issue of the Daily Nexus.