Following the September 5 announcement that the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may come to an end in March, Fullerton College responded in a number of ways to provide support for undocumented students and share information about state programs that will not be impacted even if there is a rollback to the federal program.
Fullerton College President Greg Schulz joined educational leaders statewide in asserting support for undocumented students. In a letter to the campus community on Sept. 5, he stated that the college remains steadfast in its commitment to provide access and opportunities to any student who seeks to further their education.
“Fullerton College is committed to proudly serving our community as an open-access institution, and nothing will change that,” he stated. “We remain strong in our commitment to provide access and opportunities to any student who seeks to further their education. I want to emphasize that Fullerton College has been and will continue to be a welcoming place for all who seek to learn here and for all who work here.”
DACA was established in June of 2012 by the Obama Administration to provide administrative relief from deportation to specific individuals who applied for and received DACA status from the federal government. The purpose of DACA was to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States as children (1) protection from deportation; and (2) a work permit. Eligible applicants were able to obtain DACA status for two years, subject to renewal, according to the State Chancellor’s Office.
It is estimated that 200,000 people in California are eligible for DACA and 61,000 community college students in the state are part of DACA. Fullerton College, which is part of the North Orange County Community College District, does not maintain data on student immigration status.
In a legal update released by the State Chancellor’s Office it was noted that Tuesday’s decision on the “unwinding” of DACA does not impact a student’s ability to attend a California community college, qualify for an exemption from non-resident tuition fees under AB 540, or to apply for financial aid under the provisions of the California Dream Act. AB 540 and the California Dream Act are state programs that are entirely separate and distinct from DACA and the federal enforcement of immigration laws.
All support services at Fullerton College are open to undocumented students in addition to a specialized program called the Grads to Be Program, which is tailored to meet their needs navigating college life.
“Undocumented students face multiple uncertainties in the current political climate,” said Counselor Sylvia Pimentel, who runs the Grads to be Program. “Undocumented students face multiple psychosocial stressors on a daily basis. Students are living parallel lives as FC Hornets and as individuals with uncertain status – not knowing when and if they or a family member may be deported.”
The Grads to be Program, which is supported by categorical state student equity funds, provides students with specialized counseling services, a series of workshops for students to address legal questions and builds a supportive network to address multiple stressors students face.
“Now more than ever, our students will need to rely on educators, staff and managers for support as they deal with anxiety/depression, uncertainty, continued discrimination and being the mistaken causality of the unemployment rates of people within their age group,” Pimentel added.
For more information visit the Grads to Be Program website at http://grads2be.fullcoll.edu/.
The State Chancellor’s Office also provides several documents and resources at http://www.cccco.edu/ResourcesforUndocumentedStudents.aspx.